LA Galaxy vs Toronto FC 09-23-2012 - Recap
Recap: LA return to playoffs after 4-2 win over Toronto FC
CARSON, Calif. -- No David Beckham? No problem.
Juninho continued his sizzling streak with two spectacular goals, the first with a Beckham-like free kick, as the LA Galaxy nailed down a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs with a 4-2 triumph over Toronto FC at the Home Depot Center that wasn't nearly as close as the scoreline suggests.
Robbie Keane netted his 12th and 13th goals of the year for the Galaxy, who took a three-goal lead after 36 minutes and then saw its shutout streak end at 491 minutes in all competitions on Terry Dunfield's header two minutes later.
The Galaxy (15-11-4) won their fourth straight league game -- and notched its first victory over Toronto since 2009 -- to climb to second place in the Western Conference, ahead of Real Salt Lake on goals scored after both vaulted past Seattle.
Juninho scored his sixth and seventh MLS goals of the season -- he also has seven in his last seven starts in all competitions -- and might have had a first-half hat trick. Toronto goalkeeper Freddy Hall parried his rocket from 22 yards off the top of the crossbar in the 23rd minute.
The Galaxy fielded their first-choice lineup sans Beckham, who has been out three weeks with a sprained ankle. Toronto, missing all three of its Designated Players to injury -- Danny Koevermans with a torn ACL, Torsten Frings with a hip ailment and Eric Hassli with a sprained ankle -- had four players in the lineup with fewer than 10 starts: Hall, Irish defender Darren O'Dea, and midfielders Aaron Maund and Andrew Wiedeman.
Toronto, which eliminated the Galaxy from the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League in their last meeting in mid-March, lost center back Richard Eckersley to injury; he departed at halftime after getting shaken up in an aerial collision with LA's Mike Magee in the 14th minute.
The Galaxy was in charge from the start, repeatedly finding paths into TFC's box, but couldn't find the net until the 11th minute, after LA-bred Luis Silva spilled Christian Wilhelmsson just outside the 18, about halfway from the semicircle and the box's edge. Juninho stepped up and curled the ball around the wall and toward the upper-right corner, leaving Hall flat-footed as it hit the net.
OPTA Chalkboard: LA dominate from start to finish
His second goal, in the 33rd minute, was special: a first-time blast from about 32 yards that streaked into the upper-right corner. Keane made it 3-0 three minutes later, chipping over a goalmouth scrum after Landon Donovan and Magee twisted to deliver passes into the box.
Dunfield tallied from a Jeremy Hall throw-in on the right wing. Silva beat Todd Dunivant in the air to flick it toward the far post, where Marcelo Sarvas let Dunfield drift away for an open header inside the six-yard box. Before that Dunfield goal the Galaxy had shut out its previous five opponents in all competitions and its last three in MLS play.
Silva trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the 86th minute, his shot deflecting off Omar Gonzalez and over leaping goalkeeper Josh Saunders. But Keane restored the cushion deep into stoppage after juking past Ashtone Morgan in the TFC box.
The Galaxy next play a week from Sunday in Colorado. Toronto FC head from LA to El Salvador for Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League group stage clash with CD Aguila followed by a road game next Saturday against New York.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Juninho (LA)||Juninho continues to be one of the most dangerous long-distance threats in MLS with another two goals to his name. Bossed the midfield against Toronto.|
|2||Landon Donovan (LA)||Once again proves a catalyst for the LA Galaxy attack with plenty of runs, passes and combination play. Deserved a goal or two but will settle for two assists.|
|3||Robbie Keane (LA)||Lifts his season goal total to 13 with another two well-taken strikes. Wreaked havoc on the TFC back line with his relentless runs in behind.|