L.A. Galaxy fans finally had something to get excited about as Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Juninho, and David Beckham stepped up big to help the Galaxy defeat a pesky Portland Timbers team 3-1 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
The game was far from perfect, but the win will allow a fan base and a struggling champion the chance to take a deep breath and bask in the glow of an exciting victory during the next week before the Galaxy travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The biggest question mark for the Galaxy was again center back, as the G's started newly acquired David Junior Lopes and rookie Tommy Meyer. The duo was tested early and seemed to be struggling with communication which is to be expected. A mix up on the Galaxy back line lead to Portland Timbers forward Kris Boyd slipping a goal past Josh Saunders to take a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute. Boyd almost scored another a minute later, and soon after put one in that was called back due to a controversial offside call. At that point, the game was looking all too familiar for the Galaxy; bad defense and down a goal.
The Galaxy offense began to take charge late in the half. Aggressive play by Robbie Keane and Chad Barrett up top provided near goals and L.A. finally found the back of the net as Robbie Keane sent a ball on the ground, across the penalty area, to Landon Donovan who buried his first goal of the 2012 season. As the Angel City Brigade erupted, you could sense a momentum shift going into the half.
The Galaxy offense continued to press in the second half. Defender David Junior Lopes seemed to find his groove as the game wore on and was active on the offensive end with two shots on goal including a header that took a wonder save by Franck Songo’o on the line to keep him off the score sheet. The Galaxy offense continued to push, and Juninho finally put L.A. on top with a smoking ground shot from outside the penalty area that screamed past Timbers keeper Troy Perkins in the 83rd minute.
In what should be the goal of the week, and perhaps the goal of the year, David Beckham put this one to bed with a golazo in the top corner from 25 yards out. The high bender sent the crowd at the Home Depot Center into a frenzy as confetti covered the field and "Seven Nation Army" rang out.
Tonight was what L.A. Galaxy soccer is all about. L.A. needs their stars to shine, and tonight they were bright as can be. Donovan, Juninho, and Beckham all picked a great night to open their 2012 scoring account in a must win victory that should set the tone for this week's clash in Colorado.
MY THREE TAKEAWAYS
1. During last week's loss at KC, Taylor Twellman made the comment that due to defensive problems, perhaps L.A.'s best approach would be to let the offense attack, trying to outscore their opponents. Bruce Arena coached teams have always focused on defense, but L.A.'s defensive issues early in the season have to make you wonder if Twellman is on to something. Tonight the Galaxy strength was the attack and it paid off with L.A.connecting on 17 shots on goal compared to Portland's 8. It seemed as if the team realized that the defense is what it is, but that they were going to force Portland to counter if they were going to win the game. The approach looked like it helped the Galaxy defense, as the squad looked to mesh as the game wore on, playing loose, with less pressure. I will be watching to see if L.A. continues to attack which as a fan makes for scintillating soccer to watch, and seems to play to the strengths of Beckham, Keane, and Donovan.
2. Lopes looked better than expected. Was he perfect? No. But he looked very comfortable out there, and on any other night probably scores two. I expect him to link up with Beckham on corners a few times this year which could be a very nice combo.
3. Beckham's goal was fantastic. That goal was the type of goal that is a demo you show people when explaining why this game is so captivating. David Beckham is a special player with the ability to make players around him better with his set pieces and passing, but when he scores it is almost always special. One of the best moments I have witnessed live was when Beckham bent a free kick at the Rose Bowl to score against Barcelona in 2009. I will never forget that moment. Goals like tonight never get old. If you haven't seen Beckham play live, do yourself a favor and get down to the Home Depot Center because he won't be around forever.