Galaxy Big 3 Too Much for Timbers


One day after trading away Bill Gaudette for a second round pick to the New York Red Bulls, the LA Galaxy travelled to Portland to take on the Timbers. The pressure now falls on Josh Saunders to up his game because the Galaxy management and season falls on his shoulders. Hopefully, Saturday’s game is not a preview of what’s to come because Saunders was far from spectacular. But the Big 3 of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham were at the very least spectacular if not flawless. In a game that saw 8 balls cross the goal line, the Galaxy came out ahead thanks to the Big 3.

The scoring in this match started quite early. The clock had not even reached the third minute when a wicked cross by Portland’s Alhassan found a cutting Kris Boyd who timed the bounced and right footed it past Saunders who had no chance to stop it. in less the three minutes the Galaxy quickly trailed by one.

Then the LA Galaxy went on a scoring frenzy reminiscent of FC Barcelona. The first one to strike was David Beckham. Becks received a pass about 10 feet away from the box and the defenders oddly enough stayed away and gave him plenty of room. Such room was an invitation for Beckham to launch a bending ball which found it way to the side of the net. Portland’s goalkeeper was just a spectator who had no chance to reach the ball. It was the 19th minute and the game was tied 1-1.

Just three minutes later it was Beckham again who connected from outside the box and into the net. This time it was a free kick from the left side and Beckham, as he is known to do, was a able to curve the ball over the wall of defenders and into the bottom of the net. It was vintage Beckham. He may not be an Olympian this year but gladly he is a member of the Galaxy. The score was Portland 1, Beckham (umm Galaxy) 2.

The Galaxy kept the pressure on the Portland defense who seemed demoralized after those two quick Beckham goals. From a throw in, Stephens got behind the defense and when trying to cut back into the center, was taken down by a Timber’s defender. A penalty shot was awarded. Who should take the shot? There was Beckham, one goal away from the hat trick, Landon Donovan who has a 90% penalty shot percentage in MLS play, or Robbie Keane who last week was given the opportunity from the spot and succeeded? Not a bad dilemma to have but it was Landon Donovan who was given the green light. And he didn’t disappoint as he chipped it near center as the goalkeeper had beaten himself. 3 unanswered goals had given the Galaxy a 3-1 lead in the 27th minute.

A minute later it was Robbie Keane’s turn to get into the fun. After Donovan stole the ball in midfield, eluded a diving challenge, he crossed it into the box where Keane had made a run between defenders. It was an easy tap in for Keane as the ball was beyond the reach of Timber’s goalkeeper Perkins. It was Donovan’s elusive running and speed that led to the goal as well as Keane savvy run to get behind defenders to avoid to the offside. The barrage of goals propelled the Galaxy to a 4-1 lead in the 28th minute.

The Timbers were not about to pull out the white flag just yet. In the 34th minute, a free kick was awarded to the Timbers. Boyd was to take the shot of the set piece. He struck it on the ground around the wall and into Saunders. Saunders could not control the ball as it bounced just before reaching him. It squirted in front of Saunders who was only able to watch as Kimura was able to blast it past him for the score. Although it was a difficult ball to control, Saunders should have done a better job at smothering the ball, or punching it out, or just clearing it from the small box. It hit him right in the chest. Blame can also lie on the defenders as only 1 ran back and try to clear the ball but in all honesty Saunders was at fault. 4-2 Galaxy on top heading into the intermission.

The second half brought more of the same. It wasn’t until the 64th minute that the score changed, but up to that point both teams had great scoring opportunities yet were unable to convert. In the 64th minute it was Keane who brought the Timber’s comeback attempt to an end. It was Beckham’s pass to a streaking Franklin that started to play. Franklin beat his defender and crossed it straight to Keane. It was very similar to Keane’s earlier goal but this time Keane finished it off with finesse. A gentle tap with his right and it was time to celebrate again. 5-2 Galaxy.

The last goal of the match was from a set piece from Portland. Another free kick just outside the box. Once again, Boyd took the shot and it was the same shot as the other free kick that resulted in goal. The only difference this time around was the Boyd was able to shoot it to the bottom right corner. Saunders was guarding that side of the net, yet was beat by the low shot. Another mistake by Saunders, another goal against the Galaxy. 5-3 after 70 minutes and that is the way the game ended.

Saunders had a poor showing but his performance was overshadowed by the great play of the Big 3. Keane and Beckham had a pair of scores while Donovan had his goal and an assist. This is the type of performance that is expected by the Big 3 in each and every game. That may be setting the bar too high but something similar should not be far fetched. Saunders, on the other hand, can not continue to have games like this. Unforced errors, inability to clear balls in his area, and allowing free kicks to get the best of him will result in the Galaxy dropping in the standings. After this weekend’s games, the Galaxy have now climbed to 5th place in the table. If they can continue with their positive results, they can continue to climb in the standings. They may end up in 3rd place before playoffs start and momentum can carry them the rest of the way.