CARSON, Calif. — LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho has a feel for the net these days, and so does his teammate David Beckham. So do a few others, too, in the Galaxy lineup -- it's a huge reason for the nearly three-month hot patch they're on.
LA look more like last year's champions with every outing, and Saturday night's 2-0 triumph over visiting Vancouver was exquisite evidence: shutdown defense, plenty of possession and two sensational strikes from their central midfielders, both worthy of Goal-of-the-Week consideration.
Juninho netted the first, a 28-yard blast to the upper-right corner in the 41st minute, and Beckham doubled the advantage with one of his trademark free kicks in the 79th. On a night the Galaxy, in Beckham's words, “could have played better,” they were the difference in a match that wasn't particularly close.
“Juni's was incredible,” Beckham said. “Juni's been doing that a lot recently in training and in games. When he's got his shooting boots on, there's not many goalkeepers that can stop him.
WATCH: Juninho's strike that earns Beckham's praise
“We needed that because we had a lot of the possession and we were creating chances but not putting them in. Juni steps up and puts one in.”
It was a lot like a lot of other goals the Brazilian has scored the last few years, a sharp, dipping shot that left Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton zero chance. It came from a Hector Jimenez feed that Robbie Keane redirected, and Juninho had time to settle the ball, look up and pick out his corner.
Beckham's goal was nearly as nice: a free kick, won by Keane, from 25 yards, deposited in the upper-left corner.
“I knew if I put it in the corner, the 'keeper wasn't getting there, simple as that,” Beckham said. “And I hit it well. I knew once I hit it and I caught it well, it was going in.”
The goal was Beckham's sixth in his last eight games and seventh of the season, his best mark in MLS.
“I'm not usually scoring that many, but I'll take it,” he said.
So will the Galaxy, who are 10-3-2 in league play since mid-June, climbing from last in the West to second place (for about 20 minutes Saturday night) and now sit third, ahead of Seattle on goals scored — but having played three more games than the Sounders have.