L.A. Galaxy Get "Deserved" Comeback Win, Beat Portland 3-1
Scottish striker Kris Boyd had put the Timbers ahead in the 23rd minute and nearly had two more goals in the ensuing minutes; a diving save by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders and a questionable offside call were the only things keeping Boyd from a hat trick and the Galaxy from a 3-0 deficit.
Then, suddenly, everything changed. The defense tightened its proverbial screws, Landon Donovan scored an important equalizer just before halftime and both Juninho and David Beckham scored in the final 10 minutes to give the Galaxy a 3-1 victory in front of 22,143 fans at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
"The character was coming into question for this team," Beckham said, referring to the criticism the Galaxy was taking for its 1-3 start to the MLS season. "But we deserved [the win] tonight."
With the win, Los Angeles climbed out of last place in the Western Conference, passing Portland and finding themselves in 8th on six points from five games. The Galaxy still trail conference leaders Real Salt Lake by nine points but have two games in hand on the table toppers.
"At the end of the day you have to be a good team," Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said. "We haven't been a good team in the early going. Tonight we were."
Boyd toed the offside line throughout the match, being whistled four times for offside but also breaking free of the Galaxy’s high line in the 23rd minute to slip a low shot into the right corner of the goal and give his team a 1-0 lead.
After a poor giveaway by Lopes in the 25th, Boyd had a low shot saved by Saunders. One minute later, he was back for more. Boyd’s 26th minute effort would have been an early contender for goal of the season, had it not been nullified for offside. He ran past Lopes, flicked the ball with the outside of his foot and spun around, locating the ball again before smashing a full volley into the far corner of the net. Replays showed Boyd to have been either very slightly offside or level with L.A.'s last defender.
Beckham, Donovan and Robbie Keane were active throughout the first half but couldn't construct the right move to find an equalizing goal. That changed in the 44th minute, when Keane beat several Timber defenders down the left flank and cut a low pass back to Donovan, who slammed a low shot under the left hand of diving Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The teams left the field for the halftime intermission tied at one goal apiece.
In the second half, Lopes had two chances to be the hero in his first game for the Galaxy after being acquired from Chivas USA for Paolo Cardozo in a Tuesday trade.
In the 69th minute, Lopes found himself wide open two yards from the Portland goal line and yet managed to put an uncontested shot over the crossbar and out of play. Four minutes later, Lopes headed a Beckham corner kick on frame that was cleared off the line by Timbers substitute Franck Songo'o.
"It was a good win today—we needed that," Lopes said afterward through a translator. "The goals didn't come [for me] today, but with time they will."
Still, Lopes' teammates were impressed with his performance, which came just four days after joining the club.
"Hopefully one man's trash is another man's treasure," Donovan said, referring to the trade with Chivas USA. "He was fantastic."
Lopes' misses nearly cost the Galaxy immediately, as the Portland counterattack left midfielder Eric Alexander with a shot on goal in the Los Angeles penalty area. The left-footer's shot, though, smacked off the top of the crossbar.
Two minutes after the second substitution, Juninho scored what ended up being the game-winning goal. After winning a duel for possession at the top of the box, the Brazilian midfielder quickly turned and fired a low shot just inside the near post for his first goal of the MLS season.
Eight minutes later, it was Beckham's turn to score on a long distance shot. Donovan saw Beckham with plenty of space in the middle of the park and hit a long ball to him from the left flank. Beckham took one touch and unleashed a blazing shot into the upper right corner of the Timbers net, giving Perkins no chance at making the save.
"I haven't done it for a few years," Beckham said about scoring a long-range goal from open play. "It was a terrible first touch but it took me into a shooting position. I knew it as soon as I hit it that it was going in."
-- The MLS All-Stars will take on English Premier League power Chelsea on July 25th at PPL Park in Philadelphia, the league announced Tuesday. It’s interesting that the date seemingly conflicts with the Galaxy's scheduled friendly against fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur on July 24th at the Home Depot Center, a game the team announced more than three weeks ago. The Galaxy could now be without some of its top players for that marquee friendly matchup this summer.
-- While it's still very early in the 2012 MLS season, Sporting Kansas City has put the league on notice that they are at the top of list of challengers to the Galaxy's throne. Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday, one week after knocking off the Galaxy by the same score line at Livestrong Park. They have now won all six of their MLS matches and have given up only one goal through the season's first 540 minutes.
-- Next up for the Galaxy is a Saturday match away to Colorado. The Rapids have lost two straight after opening the season with three wins in four games. They are currently sixth in the Western Conference with nine points from six games. The Galaxy return home the following Saturday for a matchup with fourth place FC Dallas. The game against Dallas is also USC Night, with discounted tickets and free transportation being offered to USC students, faculty and staff.