Los Angeles flexed its muscle in a dominating win over the upstart Timbers.The LA Galaxy flexed their muscles against Portland Saturday night in a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Landon Donovan notched a brace and added an assist as last year’s Western Conference finalists gave the MLS debutantes Timbers a lesson in consistency. Fresh off two wins in the intoxicating confines of JEN-WELD Park, the young Timbers seemed rattled after two quick goals had them down before the game was ten minutes old.
Three-fourths of LA’s starting midfield returned from injury or suspension, and the infusion of skill and experience showed as LA dominated the center of the park from the opening whistle. The first half was all Galaxy, and Donovan capped the scoring in the 67th minute, finishing off a clever sequence by meeting a Juan Pablo Angel cross at the six yard-line and powering past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Just four minutes in, Donovan found Chad Barrett streaking across the edge of the box, and Barrett made no mistake with a powerful right-footed blast that curled past Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins into the bottom right corner.
Four minutes later, Donovan got on the scoresheet himself, this time courtesy of a Beckham through ball after a beautiful string of one-touch passing by the Galaxy. Beckham chipped into Donovan on the edge of the box, and with Portland left back Rodney Wallace draping his arm across his neck, Donovan immediately stopped and appealed for a penalty.
Referee Ramon Hernandez pointed to the spot, and Donovan coolly sent Perkins the other way with a low drive into the bottom left corner.
Portland appeared rattled after the two early goals, resorting to long balls from defenders to forwards and occasional counterattacks down the left flank. Portland striker Kenny Cooper barely touched the ball, and his running mate Jorge Perlaza mistimed several runs in combination with left winger Kalif Alhassan.
For the Galaxy, Beckham looked to be very engaged, calling for the ball and covering a lot of ground. Together with Juninho’s incisive passing and decision-making, the Galaxy dominated the middle of the park.
In the 31st minute, Portland got its first real chance when Timbers centerback Mamadou Danso headed a Jack Jewsbury free kick on goal, but Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts parried wide.
The Galaxy just missed on 36th minute as a David Beckham free kick skipped through a crowd and went out for a goal kick. In the 37th, Landon Donovan found Mike Magee all alone on a counterattack, but Magee shot into Perkins’s hands.
As the halftime whistle sounded, the deficit could just as easily have been much worse.
Portland came out with more purpose in the second half, and as the play became more disjointed it looked like the Timbers might find a way back into the game. However, after winning corner kicks in 55th and 58th minutes Portland settled down and seemed content to pack nine and ten men behind the ball in anticipation of a counterattack.
Cooper’s first meaningful touch of the ball came in the 60th minute, as some nice holdup play led to a short spell of possession for Portland. However LA won the ball back, displaying its experience and talent as it strung together several passes in a row before Barrett dribbled out of bounds.
Donovan clinched it in the 67th minute after capping off a purposeful sequence that was emblematic of the Galaxy’s play on the night. Dribbling centrally into heavy traffic about five yards outside the box, Donovan laid off for Barrett, who found Juan Pablo Angel heading towards the endline. Angel chipped the ball back across goal, finding Donovan at the six for an authoritative header past an outstretched Perkins.
Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts denied Cooper even a consolation goal in the 80th minute. After Perlaza drove down the right and crossed to Cooper, the big Jamaican smothered Cooper’s shot as he redirected the cross off his left foot.
A 91st minute breakaway by Barrett could have easily led to a fourth Galaxy goal, but Barrett lost the ball in traffic.
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