New Hair, New Flair: LA Galaxy 3 – 1 Portland Timbers

Los Angeles Galaxy racked up their second win of the season last evening in a come-from-behind victory over the visiting Portland Timbers off of strong performances from its core veterans – and a central defender three days new to the team.

Game summary and match impressions after the jump.

Kris “Put a Boyd on It” Boyd put the visitors ahead early after clinically finishing a well-timed through ball from teammate Eric Alexander in the 23rd minute. Boyd nearly doubled the lead ten minutes later but the play was controversially called off for being offside.  Despite split first half possession stats, Galaxy offensive pressures kept Portland’s efforts away from the attacking third on all but a couple of occasions.

Landon Donovan brought the game level shortly before halftime with a 16-yard strike off a well-placed Robbie Keane diagonal backpass. Keane, widely derided as late for missing several high-chance shots, looked to concentrate his efforts on generating strike opportunities for others and was quite successful in finding Portland defenders on the wrong foot as he danced and parried his way down the field.

In a fashion consistent with Portland’s play to-date, the second half saw the visitors offensive generation greatly diminish and, after fifteen minutes of frustrating back-and-forth, Galaxy found elements of play and style that had guided them to last season’s championship – elements that haven’t been apparent through the early parts of this season.

And outstanding individual effort from Juninho gave Galaxy the winning goal in the 83rd minute.  Juninho, having lost the ball to a Portland defender, hustled back to win the ball and, in a couple of steps, from 20 yards out, fired a sharp skipping ball into the back of the net. The surprise shot caught Portland netminder Troy Perkins on his heels and his diving save attempt came up just short.

For casual observers, the talking point of the night was David Beckham’s stoppage-time goal that put the game away for good.  Working a tight passing sequence on the left touchline, Landon Donovan passed through a half dozen Portland players to a wide-open David Beckham who, after having to sprint to catch up with his heavy first touch, fired a 25-yard volley that dipped under the crossbar for his first goal of the season.  The shot, the goal, and the celebration should easily put the play into GoW (and later, GoY) contention.

But for the home town crowd, the revelation of the night must be Galaxy’s newest center back, David Junior Lopes, acquired from cross-hall rivals Chivas USA earlier in the week in exchange for midfielder Paolo Cardozo.  The Brazilian center back started the game for Los Angeles after seeing no playing time for the Goats in 2012 – and having one Galaxy practice under his belt. Though widely seen as a desperation move to shore up defensive woes on Galaxy’s back-line (at the cost of the promising young Cardozo), Lopes was paired with rookie Tommy Meyer and went the full 90, playing strong, aggressive soccer that helped snuff several threatening Portland attacks early in the game.  This writer’s own reservations of the trade were put to rest thanks to Lopes’ performance — which goes to show why this writer hasn’t been invited to any “Coach for a Day” promotions.

Portland hosts undefeated Sporting KC next Saturday while Los Angeles travels to Denver to face Colorado Rapids earlier that same evening.

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