Categorized | MLS, MLS Match Reports

Keane’s Hat Trick Carries Galaxy past RSL

Posted on 18 August 2013 by iyeo

There’s always something a little extra special whenever the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake get together.

The two teams have been the standard bearers in the Western Conference for the last five years and have faced each other twice in the playoffs, the first time for the MLS Cup in 2009 and the second time in a classic Western Conference two years ago.

“RSL has built themselves into a great franchise,” Galaxy Center Back Omar Gonzalez said. “They’re always ready to play each week, they have some great leaders on that team, (head coach) Jason Kreis is always getting them ready to play.”

Saturday night at the StubHub Center was no exception, as the Galaxy answered RSL’s opening strike with four unanswered goals, three of them from striker Robbie Keane, and LA rode it all the way to a 4-2 win over conference-leading Real Salt Lake.

“It was a good win for our team tonight,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Keane and (Landon) Donovan were very good and overall, it was a good effort by our team.”

The three-points were much needed for Los Angeles in what it becoming another tight race in the Western Conference. Real Salt Lake are the current leaders with 41 points, but after that, only one point separates the remaining four teams sitting in playoff spots. The Galaxy moved up one spot into fourth place and currently have 37 points.

“After their goal, we were pretty sharp in the final third and 4-2 is a great score line, especially against the West leaders,” Gonzalez said.

After a scoreless first half, the goals came fast and furious in the second half. Real Salt Lake opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, as Center Back Nat Borchers sent a ball forward and a quick touch by midfielder Ned Grabavoy freed striker Joao Plata to spring into the 18-yard box and Plata slotted his shot past keeper Jaime Penedo into the back net to put RSL in the lead.

The lead however did not last long, as LA answered the call in a huge way. The Galaxy got the equalizer three minutes after Plata’s goal. Juninho sent a ball towards Keane, who fought off RSL Center Back Carlos Salcedo, then juked him out at the top of the box and fired a shot on goal that beat Rimando far post to even the match. Keane then put LA ahead in the 67th minute, as Juninho sent another long ball forward, Sean Franklin, who had entered as a substitute two minutes earlier, chased the ball down, then whipped a short cross into the six-yard box and Keane tapped a ball past Rimando near post for the go-ahead goal.

“I think it’s going to be difficult going forward for teams to play against us,” Landon Donovan said. “They clearly put some emphasis on trying to shut me down tonight, and if you do that, you’re going to get punished by Robbie.”

LA wasn’t done yet. The Galaxy won a corner in the 75th minute, Donovan sent the corner in and Gonzalez, just days removed from signing a lucrative contract extension which made him the Galaxy’s third Designated Player, headed the ball past Rimando to the back post to double the LA lead. Keane then made it a hat trick for him in the 87th minute, as he chased down Franklin’s long ball, Rimando came off his line and Keane chipped a ball over Rimando into the back net. Real Salt Lake though was the one that capped off the scoring in stoppage time, as Robbie Findley scored of a set piece just moments before the final whistle.

“They were extremely dangerous,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said of the Galaxy’s attack. “Good team on the counter, they’re extremely effective in what they do, and if they’re on their game, sometimes, you’re just going to have to say they’re the better team.”

Saturday’s game also marked the first start in goal for the Galaxy’s Penedo. Penedo, who was signed about a week back but did not appear in LA’s last two matches, acquitted himself pretty solidly, stopping a point-blank chance by Alvaro Saborio early in the second half to break the ice as far as save chances.

“Thank god that everything came out great,” Penedo said. “I just prepare the same way I always prepare physically and mentally, it was a big challenge for me, so I wanted to do good.”

The Galaxy now jump into CONCACAF Champions League play, as they host Costa Rican club on Tuesday night while Real Salt Lake will look to bounce back on Saturday, as they host the Columbus Crew.

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