CARSON, Calif. — Kofi Opare scored his first career goal on Wednesday night and the LA Galaxy now find themselves on the verge of a playoff berth after pulling out a 1-0 victory over the visiting Montreal Impact at StubHub Center.
Opare struck following a corner kick in the 68th minute for LA (15-11-6), who vaulted past Seattle into third place in the West and now sit just two points off the lead in the conference and Supporters' Shield races with two games to play. The two-time defending MLS Cup champions need only a draw on Sunday at home against San Jose to clinch a postseason berth.
Montreal (13-12-7), fourth in the Eastern Conference but tied on points with fifth-place Chicago and sixth-place Philadelphia and just one point above seventh-place New England, dropped their third successive 1-0 decision and saw their winless skid hit six games.
Neither team was at full strength, with injuries depriving the Galaxy of Landon Donovan (sprained ankle) and Omar Gonzalez (adductor strain), while Montreal left five starters at home and put midfielders Patrice Bernier and Felipe Martins on the bench. Each side started three Homegrown players in their lineups.
Robbie Keane only returned from Dublin mid-afternoon after Ireland's victory on Tuesday over Kazakhstan, but came on in the 60th minute and immediately injected life into LA's attack after a mostly drab first hour.
Within eight minutes Opare, a rookie defender playing in place of Gonzalez, scored from a scramble in Montreal's box.
Goalkeeper Evan Bush leapt to deny Leonardo's header to the far past off Juninho's corner kick, and second-half substitute Laurent Courtois played the ball back to Jose Villarreal, whose shot ricocheted off Gyasi Zardes. Opare spun to boot the ball home with his left foot.
The Galaxy dictated terms from start to finish and were unfortunate not to score three or four goals. Zardes' deflected shot following a weaving run just before halftime struck the outside of the left post, while Jack McBean forced a Bush save at the left post in the first half and Villarreal fired just wide of the right post 15 minutes after the break.
Marcelo Sarvas struck the crossbar in the 80th minute and Keane followed suite five minutes later.
Montreal came close to scoring first in the 12th minute when Andrew Wenger couldn't get a foot on Marco Di Vaio's perfectly placed cross through traffic. They came even closer in the 55th minute from a corner kick, when Karl W. Ouimette's header was saved by Todd Dunivant, and Wandrille Lefevre nodded Hassoun Camara's bicycle kick over the crossbar.
After the San Jose game, the Galaxy head to El Salvador for their final CONCACAF Champions League group match on Oct. 24 against Isidro Metapán and wrap up the MLS regular season Oct. 27 at Seattle. Montreal are home Saturday against Philadelphia, then finish Oct. 26 at Toronto.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kofi Opare||Rookie's first pro goal is a game-winner, and does a tremendous job on Golden Boot co-leader Marco Di Vaio.|
|2||Marcelo Sarvas||Quiet monster evening from the elder statesman in the lineup, completing 81 of 85 passes with 10 recoveries.|
|3||Robbie Keane||Take a guess when LA's attack sprung to life. Hard to believe he got off a Transatlantic flight earlier in the day.|