By IVES GALARCEP
No Robbie Keane. No Landon Donovan. No problem for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Bruce Arena’s side was missing its two designated players, as well as regular starters Carlo Cudicini and Todd Dunivant, but it didn’t seem to matter as the reserve players deputized on Saturday stepped up and helped deliver an impressive victory that keeps the champions rolling toward the top of the Western Conference.
Goals from Mike Magee and rookie Charlie Rugg helped the Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto on Saturday night, a 2-0 victory that pushed the Galaxy to within six points of first-place FC Dallas, with two matches in hand.
RSL didn’t score, but not for a lack of chances or possession. The home team held a 72-27 possession edge, and had twice as many shots on target, but some outstanding saves from back-up goalkeeper Brian Rowe helped keep RSL off the scoreboard.
The night wasn’t all good news for the Galaxy. Young forward Jack McBean left the match with an injury that was later reported to be a fractured clavicle. An injury that will likely ruin any chances he had of playing his way into the U.S. Under-20 National Team conversation ahead of this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.
McBean’s injury came on the same night that highly-regarded rookie striker Gyasi Zardes made his debut. The CSU-Bakersfield product and Galaxy Homegrown Player replaced McBean and played 37 minutes, impressive observers with flashes of the considerable skill that had him pegged as a Rookie of the Year candidate before a broken foot suffered in pre-season delayed his arrival on the Galaxy.
Magee opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he headed home a Juninho free kick to make the score 1-0, giving him his sixth goal on the season, tied for the most in the league.
RSL nearly equalized in the ninth minute when Plata tested Rowe from distance, only to have the UCLA product deliver a fingertip save.
McBean provided his biggest contribution of the match in the 16th minute when he delivered a pass to Hector Jimenez, who sent a perfect low cross that found Rugg, who powered home from close range for his first career pro goal.
The two early goals were enough for the Galaxy defense to carry to victory, even as Real Salt Lake pelted Rowe with shots.
Here are the match highlights: