By JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif., — Landon Donovan's return to action after missing time with a knee injury came just in time as his two goals helped lift the Los Angeles Galaxy past the Portland Timbers, 3-0, at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
Donovan, David Beckham and Juninho all returned to action after missing recent matches due to injury or suspension and their presence quickly paid off, with the Galaxy scoring twice in the first ten minutes before Donovan finished the game off with his second goal of the night.
Before Saturday’s games, Donovan had failed to score a goal in the previous 11 games dating back to last year which included the play-offs. Surprising, Donovan was fine with this statistic.
“I could care less about scoring, I want to win,” Donovan said. “I’m not as much of a scorer anymore. Part of my game has not been the same as when I was younger. But I want to win, and it feels good to win.”
Chad Barrett scored in the opening four minutes of the match; Beckham and Donovan assisted in the goal. Donovan’s pass bounced off Barrett’s foot onto his lower shoulder, and he blasted it past keeper Troy Perkins.
Barrett's goal looked as though it could have been a handball, but Barrett wasn't about to give the goal back.
“Did I hand ball it?” asked a puzzled Barrett. “I thought it hit me in the chest. I’d have to watch the replay. I don’t remember it hitting my arm. We’ve gotten some calls going against us the last couple of days, so it’s good to get a call our way.”
Minutes later, Timbers defender Rodney Wallace held and pulled Donovan in the box. Referee Roman Hernandez was right in front of the action and quickly pointed to the spot, and Donovan converted the ensuing penalty.
The Galaxy sealed the victory in the 67th minute, when Juan Pablo Angel sashayed his way through the penalty area and sent a cross to Donovan for a header goal.
“The story line is our two early goals," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "To be up by two goals in the opening ten minutes of the game is important."
“We lost three nil,” admitted Timbers Coach John Spencer. “We probably lost the game in the first ten minutes, going two nil down. I was disappointed that we conceded two goals in quick succession.”
Though it was a good result for the LA side, Spencer still managed to find areas for improvement.
“It’s still a little sloppy over 90 minutes; our concentration could be a little better at the end of games. We got a little sloppy at the end.”
One surprising beginning to the game was seeing their designated ace Juan Pablo Angel on the bench.
“I thought our forwards in our last game [Barrett and Lopez] played well so I didn’t want to make a change,” said Arena.
Angel came in as a half time substitution for an injured Lopez and delivered the cross that Donovan headed into net.
“It was difficult for Juan, because he didn’t get any notice and he wasn’t warmed up properly and it difficult for him to start the game,” explained Arena. “But as he got warmed up, he played better.”
Next week Los Angeles travel to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas. The Timbers return him to play host to Real Salt Lake.