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L.A. Galaxy Clinch MLS Playoff Berth With 4-2 Win Over Toronto FC

Salomon Fuentes |
September 23, 2012 | 1:09 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Juninho nearly pulled off a hat trick against Toronto (albumen/Creative Commons)
Juninho nearly pulled off a hat trick against Toronto (albumen/Creative Commons)
The Los Angeles Galaxy clinched a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs by beating Toronto FC on Saturday 4-2. A sellout crowd of 27,000 at Home Depot Center watched L.A.'s Juninho and Robbie Keane score a pair of goals apiece in the victory.

The Galaxy struck early and often. Juninho, starting for the injured David Beckham, scored in the 11th minute on a free kick that bent at just the right angle over the Toronto wall and keeper. Later, in the 33rd minute, Juninho connected on a shot from long distance that stunned the Toronto side.

Keane would follow Juninho’s lead by scoring a goal in the 36th minute, one that was set up by Landon Donovan and Mike Magee. The Irish star would add a second goal that put the game away for good in the 92nd minute, when he dribbled past the Toronto defense and took an easy shot for his 13th goal of the MLS season.

With their fourth straight win in league play, the Galaxy improved to 15-11-4 and into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference.

"Robbie is here to score goals, and he’s done that," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "Juninho's obviously on a terrific run. The free kick was a terrific free kick and the goal on the run of play was awesome. Simply outstanding."

The Reds (5-18-7) came into the game with the worst record in MLS and did little to help their cause by conceding three goals in just 25 minutes.

Terry Dunfield would score for Toronto in 38th with a header that that got past keeper Josh Saunders after an attempt by Marcelo Sarvas to clear the ball failed, ending Saunders' shutout streak at three league matches.

The Dunfield goal would be the first goal allowed by the Galaxy defense in 351 minutes of MLS play and 491 minutes of all competition, including CONCACAF Champions League matches.

In the 86th minute, Toronto would make things interesting. Luis Silva put one past Saunders, cutting the Galaxy lead to 3-2 with just four minutes and stoppage time remaining. 

Keane would put any chance of Toronto comeback to rest, however, with his goal just minutes later. The Toronto backline looked exhausted by the 27 shots — including 10 on goal — the Galaxy had on the night.

"We got back into the game," said Toronto head coach Paul Mariner. "We played a short free kick instead of pumping it into the box and put them under pressure. Then in the end, 4-2 — is that a fair reflection? I don't think so."

The Galaxy threatened in 75th minute when a pass deep into the box resulted in shots by Edson Buddle and Sean Franklin, both of which were blocked by keeper Freddie Hall.

Things got heated in the 79th minute when Toronto's Darren O’Dea tripped Landon Donovan, resulting in a yellow card for the Reds’ captain. The Galaxy nearly capitalized on the opportunity, but a shot by Juninho was blocked, preventing a hat trick for the Brazilian.

On a night that celebrated the 2002 MLS Champion L.A. Galaxy team, the Galaxy kept their eye on similar aspirations for this season with just four games remaining — including three against playoff contenders.

"You always want to finish as high as possible," said Keane. "One stage it was looking likely that we weren't even going to get to the playoffs, so if you look where we came from since then, it's been massive, massive progress. And it's important that we keep that going."


Reach Staff Writer Salomon Fuentes here; Follow him on Twitter here.



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