Timbers Too Much for the Galaxy

LA loses important game on the road as the Western Conference begins to take shape
by Jamie Pham   |   Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Galaxy of Angels – column on Los Angeles Galaxy (LA Galaxy) & the LA soccer scene.

The last time these 2 teams met back in the spring, Portland’s Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored the game-winning goal at the end of stoppage time in the 2nd half breaking the Galaxy’s hearts.

But this time it was Max Urruti who scored the game-winning goal, giving Portland a 1-0 victory and a push towards the top of the Western Conference.

LA came to Portland on Saturday and played in the middle of a typhoon to try and get a game back from the Timbers but it wasn’t going to be easy.

Landon Donovan returned to the lineup to make his 300th regular season MLS appearance after being out for 2 weeks because of an ankle injury. Together with Keane, the Galaxy are 7-2-3 with 16 goals and 15 assists between them when they are playing together.

Defender Leonardo did not travel to the team due to left adductor fatigue so Kofi Opare started in his place, which is well deserved for the young center back after strong showings in the previous CONCACAF Champions League games.

Gyasi Zardes took the 1st shot of the game in the 6th minute from outside the box that almost caught Donovan Ricketts by surprise, who dove to save the ball.

Marcelo Sarvas had a chance to put the Galaxy on the board when he blasted a rocket from the top of the box that went just wide in the 27th minute as it was deflected by a Portland defender.

Although he is playing on the left midfield position, Zardes created a few good chances for himself in the box but Ricketts was able to save or deflect those shots.

MVP candidate Diego Valeri was able to be nimble on his feet and get a shot off while 3 LA defenders were around him but the ball went just over the cross bar in the 37th minute.

The 1st goal of the game came in the 52nd minute when Will Johnson whipped in a corner kick towards the left side of the frame and Urruti deflected the ball in the back of the net with his right foot.

Portland almost had a chance to double their score when the ball was bouncing around at the top of the box and LA had trouble clearing the ball out and Rodney Wallace took a shot on goal, which LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo miraculously blocked 1-handed.

The Galaxy scored the game-tying goal in the 91st minute when Donovan curled in a free kick and Keane headed the ball into the top right of the net but sideline referee signaled Keane was offsides. Keane and LA manager Bruce Arena protested to the officials to no avail as play continued for a few more minutes and the game was over.

“If the referee is right, more credit to him, Arena said. “We've been in a lot of games this year where the plays aren't even close and they don't have them right. So, if they had it right, more credit to them."

LA tried hard to get into rhythm but the rain and turf proved it to be impossible as the ball flew on the surface and players had a hard time with their first touches. A more staggering fact is that the team only had 2 shots on frame while 4 was off-target. Keane only had 1 shot that wasn’t on frame and Donovan didn’t even take a shot at all in the whole match.

"We didn't create any great chances," said Donovan, "but I thought overall we played well. We were a little at fault for not shooting and putting the ball on frame a little bit more, but we certainly had better chances in the game than they did."

A lot of criticisms fall on Arena and his starting and subs selection, as Hector Jimenez was not effective at all on the right side of the field. Arena subbed him off in the 59th minute with Michael Stephens who was equally invisible in the match.

More criticisms were on LA’s defense on set pieces which is sounding more and more like a broken record because they simply aren’t going to win games when they give up goals like these especially after the 1-0 loss on Sunday.

“I think being more aggressive and being tighter on the guy that you’re marking—just wanting it more,” said Gonzalez. “I know that we’ve been saying that over and over again, and we still keep seeing mistakes happen, but maybe even just foul a guy or do anything that we can to not allow a goal. Hopefully, the ref wouldn’t allow a penalty kick, but we’ve got to be more aggressive.”

“If we keep conceding from set pieces, we can forget about getting to the playoffs,” said Keane. “We need to stop fairly soon because there's not many games left."

NEXT UP: October 6 – Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif., 5 p.m. EST, TWC SportsNet and MLS Live.

Jamie PHAM

Pasadena City College
Club Domestic:
LA Galaxy
Club Foreign:
Former tour manager turned sports blogger, Jamie spends loads of time reviewing the Los Angeles sports scene and is a big MLS and USMNT supporter.