CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy followed up their spectacular showing in Seattle with a performance nearly as dominant against the Portland Timbers, but they needed something special from their biggest stars to pull out the victory.
Robbie Keane headed home a Landon Donovan chip with about 20 minutes to go Saturday afternoon, then converted a penalty 12 minutes later, to lift LA to 2-1 victory in front of 20,089 at StubHub Center, their first win over Portland in more than two years.
Gyasi Zardes also tallied, a header in first-half stoppage that answered Diego Valeri's early free-kick goal, as the Galaxy (9-4-6) climbed into a tie for second place in the Western Conference, at least momentarily, with Real Salt Lake, scheduled to take on Colorado Saturday night.
LA is 5-1-1 in its last six league games and 7-1-3 since a mid-May loss at Houston.
Portland (6-7-9) missed a chance for its first three-game winning streak as an MLS club as Caleb Porter fell to LA for the first time in six meetings.
The Galaxy were nearly as dominant as in the first half of Monday's 3-0 romp at Seattle, just not as sharp. They took 19 shots, to just four by the Timbers (who were limited to just one first-half shot), had about 63 percent possession and were uncommonly efficient with their passing, completing 87 percent -- 81 percent in the attacking third.
Keane's goals were his 11th and 12th of the season and Zardes' his eighth.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena fielded the same lineup as in Seattle, with one surprise on the bench: defender Todd Dunivant, who has been out since early April with an abdominal tear.
Porter made just one change from his team in last weekend's victory at Montreal, with Rodney Wallace in the attacking slot on the left in place of Darlington Nagbe, who suffered a knee sprain against the Impact. The Timbers lost Gaston Fernandez to an undisclosed injury midway through the first half, with Kalif Alhassan taking his spot.
LA had most of the ball from the beginning, but they struggled for coherence, with Robbie Rogers, especially, off to a slow start. Portland went ahead in the 14th minute after Rogers was dispossessed near midfield by Will Johnson, who fed Fernandez, who was brought down outside the Galaxy box.
Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo pulled 6-foot-5 Omar Gonzalez out of the wall, and Valeri hit a beautiful free kick from about 26 yards, a shot that glanced off Zardes' head and flew into the top-right corner of the net.
Valeri, who tallied in all three games against LA this year, scored for the third straight game, but the Timbers didn't have another shot until the second half and wouldn't put another on frame.
The Galaxy had nearly constant possession from about the midpoint of the first half, especially along the left side as Rogers found his footing. It led to three good chances, with Zardes heading off the crossbar from Dan Gargan's cross in the 30th minute, and Keane forcing a leaping save from Donovan Ricketts in the 36th and nodding a Donovan serve over the crossbar in the 45th.
Zardes tallied three minutes into stoppage time with a point-blank header. It started out of the back, with Gonzalez feeding Donovan, who fed Keane, who sent the ball wide for Rogers.
Rogers' bullet cross found Zardes, who had roamed from Danny O'Rourke's mark, just inside the six-yard box, and Ricketts had no chance of stopping it.
The goal was Zardes' seventh in his last eight league games, and his 10th in his last 12 starts in all competitions.
Keane scored the winner in the 73rd minute, completing a sequence that began in LA's defensive end. Donovan took a pass from Keane on the left flank, brought it toward the net, then juked Jack Jewsbury before chipping toward the far post. Keane worked inside Johnson and went to the ground to get his head on the ball near the goal line.
Keane tallied again in the 85th minute, converting from the spot after Diego Chara tripped Juninho on the line at the top of the box. It was the first penalty LA has made in four attempts this season.
The Galaxy are home Friday night against San Jose. The Timbers are home next Saturday night against Chivas USA.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Robbie Keane||Glue to the LA attack. Good moves generally find Keano heavily involved. Oh, and two goals, one assist.|
|2||Landon Donovan||Used his burst -- it's still there -- when it was necasary and comes away how he didn't get a goal.|
|3||Omar Gonzalez||Key to the LA pressure is the harrying behind the first line. Thanks to Omar and Co. no easy touches.|