Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena has been busy throughout the week.
Arena first acquired 6-3 Center Back David Junior Lopes from Chivas USA in exchange for midfielder Paolo Cardozoback on April 10, then for Saturday night’s game against the Portland Timbers, he replaced striker Edson Buddle with Chad Barrett and welcomed David Beckham back into the starting lineup after the midfielder had missed last week’s game at Sporting Kansas City with a hamstring injury.
While the start of the match threatened to render those moves moot, as LA surrendered another goals while numerous chances went begging, the outcome was more to their liking. An important goal from Landon Donovan in the final minute was then followed by long range goals from Juninho and David Beckham and the Galaxy averted disaster with a 3-1 come-from-behind win over the Timbers at the Home Depot Center.
“Certainly, a game we needed to win,” Arena said. “Overall, I thought it was a good performance over the 90 minutes. Not perfect, but certainly improved from our previous ones in the MLS season.”
The win avoids a three-game losing streak and puts them at 2-3-0 with six points, though they have some catching up to do in the Western Conference. Portland meanwhile slips to 1-4-1 on the season.
“Overall, our performance was 100 percent better than it has been all season,” Beckham said. “We played as a team, attacked and defended as a team and we deserved the win tonight because it was a tough game.”
Tied at one goal apiece well into the second half, a draw seemed likely, but the Galaxy finally took control of the match starting in the 83rd minute. A cross from Landon Donovan was sent out of the penalty area by Mike Chabala, though not out of danger. Juninho then fought off Darlington Nagbe for possession, turned and gathered himself, then sent a 25-yard volley low which beat Troy Perkins near post to put the Galaxy ahead. LA sealed the win in stoppage time, and the goal came off the foot of David Beckham, as he recieved a ball from Landon Donovan, took a heavy first touch, but he chased down the ball and let loose a howler from about 25 yards out which curled and sailed past Perkins into the upper right corner for his first goal of the season and more importantly, three points for the home team.
The start of the match revealed more of the sme problems that had plagued LA throughout the start of the season, namely poor finishing and suspect marking on defense. LA had numerous chances on the offensive end, but were unable to break through, and Portland got a chance in the 23rd minute when Eric Alexander played a ball for Kris Boyd, who may or may not have been offside, but nevertheless, he sprinted for the 18, then amied right and succeeded, beating Josh Saunders far post to put the Timbers ahead.
The Galaxy got one more chance just before halftime, and they made the most of it. Robie Keane evaded Eric Brunner, charged into the penalty area from the left side, played a ball back towards the 18 and Landon Donovan’s volley beat Troy Perkins right post to give LA an important equalizer just before halftime.
“Even when we were one-nil down, I thought we were playing well,” Beckham said.
Saturday’s game also marked the debut of center back David Junior Lopes, who was acquired just four days earlier and was thrust into the lineup alongside rookie Tommy Meyer after AJ DeLaGarza couldn’t go due to injury. Aside from a mistake that led to Boyd’s goal, Lopes held up pretty well throughout the match and actually almost got on the score sheet, as his header off a Beckham corner in the 73rd minute was cleared at the goal line by Franck Songo’o.
“I came here with the mentality of working hard, and getting the starting spot was a consequence of that,” Lopes said.
The Galaxy will now look to build on this win, as they travel to Colorado to face the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park next Saturday.