The Los Angeles Galaxy got hot on Saturday night, scoring four past Sporting Kansas City.
After goals by Donovan on either side of halftime, Juan Pablo Angel broke the game open in the 64th minute by converting a breakaway past Kansas City ’keeper Eric Kronberg, breaking a prolonged scoring drought in the process. David Beckham completed the scoreline in the 87th, showing with a curling drive why his free kicks have a movie named after them.
The absence of both teams’ regular starting goalkeepers prefigured a strange first half. Despite not registering a single shot on goal, the visitors went ahead in the 39th minute when a Kansas City cross deflected off of Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez and into his own net. The Galaxy responded with more energy, and poured in four goals before the final whistle blew.
Whether due to a week-long layoff and road blues on the seventh game of its 10-game road swing for Kansas City, or to the fatigue of the Galaxy playing its 3rd game in 7 days, neither team looked especially sharp in a disjointed first half.
The Galaxy’s premier attacking trio of Beckham, Donovan and Juninho created plenty of chances, but forwards Miguel Lopez and Chad Barrett were unable to provide the final finish for most of the half. Meanwhile, SKC seemed comfortable ceding possession to the Galaxy and defending deep in its own half.
An early own goal for Kansas City against the run of play started the game off strangely. Just as a late defensive lapse at Philadelphia Wednesday meant two points wasted, Gonzalez’s touch on a low cross from Harrington deflected into the bottom corner of the net past a helpless Saunders in the 39th minute.
The Galaxy responded, led by David Beckham. Latching onto a loose ball in the Kansas City half, Beckham won a corner kick in the 43rd minute after combining with Donovan along the end-line. Kansas City cleared, but a movement started by Beckham a minute later resulted in a penalty kick for Los Angeles. Beckham worked a one-two with Todd Dunivant in the box, and a Kansas City defender ended Beckham’s run with a karate kick tackle to his torso. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the penalty spot, and Landon Donovan finished past Kronberg to level the score at one apiece.
Spectators were still finding their seats after halftime when Donovan put the Galaxy up in the 46th minute after a strange sequence. A long throw by Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant to Donovan deflected to Chad Barrett. Barrett found Donovan streaking into the box for a quick finish past Kronberg. It was Donovan’s seventh goal in his last five games.
Still, the Galaxy’s lead appeared tenuous until the introduction of Angel at the hour mark brought stability to the Los Angeles attack. Angel looked vigorous from the start, and broke an eight game scoring drought in the 64th minute. The former Red Bull beat Kansas City center back Julio Cesar to a header, then slipped behind the big Brazilian and made no mistake after Barrett’s pass put him one-on-one with Kronberg.
From then on, Los Angeles appeared to toy with the visitors. The introduction of Ryan Smith for Kansas City made it a little more lively, but no significant chances were created. Beckham finished off the night with a world-class strike from a free kick in the 87th. Lining up on the far left side of the field 30 yards from the Kansas City goal, Beckham sent a swerving ball into the top left corner, past the outstretched hands of the diving Kronberg.