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Timbers hammer Galaxy in LA behind Adi brace

MLS: Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy
Photo by Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

Carson, Calif. – First win in LA ever? Check. First trip to MLS playoffs since 2013? Check.

Before an electric sold out crowd in Los Angeles, the Portland Timbers knocked off the struggling LA Galaxy, 5-2, behind a brace from offensive talisman Fernando Adi.

After being thoroughly outplayed by the Galaxy in the first half, the Timbers stormed out of the halftime locker room and pushed the Galaxy back into their own goal, firing off four shots in the first five minutes. The flurry culminated in a Liam Ridgewell near miss, when the English centerback crashed the goal and slammed a header off the crossbar.

But it was Adi who drove two quick daggers into the Galaxy, converting a back-to-goal strike in the 65th minute off of a clever passing sequence inside the area, and then converting a penalty kick two minutes later to give the Timbers the lead for good.

“Let’s give Portland credit.  They dominated us in the second half and deserved to win the game” said LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena in his post-game press conference. “It wasn’t tactical, it wasn’t anything more than their desire to win that game, and fight, was much greater than ours.”

Adi earned the penalty when he was dragged down in the area by Dan Gargan.  He beat Ricketts low and to the keeper’s left. The sequence brought Adi’s goal tally on the season to 15.

Diego Chara scored what would be the game-winner when the diminutive midfield destroyer was abandoned by Steven Gerrard and left alone to race in on goal and poke an Adi cross into the back of the net with his head.

“Not good enough” said Liverpool legend Gerrard after the match. “The manager’s right. He had a go at us after the game, and rightly so. Especially in front of our home supporters, we have to take responsibility for the second-half showing.”

Gerrard could have made the Timbers’ comeback far more difficult. He took a 4th-minute free kick from just outside the Portland penalty area. The shot was well taken, and got up and over the wall and well out of reach of the Portland goalkeeper, but it clanged off the crossbar to keep the match close.

The Portland win diminishes the performance of the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, who scored both LA goals, each coming in spectacular fashion.

Keane’s first goal came in the 36th minute, when he allowed a long Juninho entry ball to drop over his far shoulder. Then, back to goal at the edge of the penalty area, Keane slammed the ball on the hop into the far post upper-90 to beat Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey.

“In the first half we played very well, we dominated the game” said Keane after the match, “but then we concede, get one back, concede again, then we’re chasing the game.  It’s very difficult.”

Keane tallied again in the 84th on a remarkable header that he redirected backwards to beat Kwarasey again. The goal brought the Galaxy within one, and for a brief moment, it looked like the Galaxy had life.

But for only a brief moment. On the ensuing kickoff, Darlington Nagbe took a deflected ball and beat Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts to double the Portland lead and quash all hope for the home side.

“I think it’s a good wake up call.  I can’t remember the last time we got beat like that, especially in one half” said Gonzalez in the locker room afterwards. “We just fell apart.  The effort just wasn’t there, from top to bottom.”

Max Urriti added insult to injury when he converted a Jorge Villafana cross in the 90th minute to close out the scoring.

For the Timbers, the game was an unexpected triumph. While the team had been playing well of late, nobody expected a dousing of the mighty Galaxy, especially given the fact that the Galaxy also had much to play for.

Despite the loss, the Galaxy still hold second place. However, Sporting KC holds a game in hand and only trail the Galaxy by three points. Regardless of SKC’s result against Colorado on Wednesday night, if the Galaxy can take all the points in Kansas City on Sunday, they will hang on to second place. Anything less, and the defending champions will drop into the the knockout round pool with, among others, the same Portland side that just routed them on their home pitch.

More worrisome than the standings for the Galaxy is their late season run of form. The Galaxy have now lost three of their last four, and have won only won one game in their last six. The loss was also their first at home since an 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 6, and only their third home loss in the last forty three games at the Stub Hub Center.

“The good thing about football is that there’s always the next game. It’s in our hands” continued Omar Gonzalez. “The way everyone (in the Galaxy locker room) feels like now, I think it’s a good sign. Everyone cares. Everyone knows tonight wasn’t good enough. We have one more game to get ready for the playoffs, and we have to get things right.”

The Galaxy will travel to take on Sporting KC Sunday for the final game of the season. The Timbers will finish their season on Sunday against the basement-dwelling Colorado Rapids. Only a loss coupled with wins by San Jose and Seattle, and at least one win by Sporting KC in their final two, can eliminate the Timbers now.


    • Correct, they have not clinched a play-off spot, but they did help themselves tremendously by winning on the road. One point in their final match clinches no worse than 6th in the WC and eliminates SJ. A loss in their final game and SJ can pass them with a win against FCD. Crazier things have happened I suppose, but Portland are heavy favorites at this point one would think.

  1. Gerrard is simply not adjusting. Did he even touch the ball last night? And he and Dos Santos both, they do know they’re expected to defend in this league, right?

    Galaxy in big trouble. Even Arena said it post game “I was surprised to see we were having fitness issues in the second half. The other team played on Wednesday, we’ve had two weeks off. you’d think we wouldn’t have struggled with fitness.” Or desire. Bruce said it best – the other team out-desired the Galaxy – by a mile.

    I hear that Dos Santos hasn’t even spoken to the media since like August. Wonder if the Galaxy can dump his contract? Gerrard’s only booked through next season, but Dos Santos 5 year contract, that’s gotta be a concern to pay a guy that much money for that long and he doesn’t want to give the effort.

  2. After the Galaxy had that crazy run in the summer, everyone basically started to hand them the title. Which is the exact moment they have begun to fall apart. Weird how that always happens.

    And seriously, Omar needs to wake up. You give a million dollars to your central defender, and sorry, but it becomes his defense. He has to step up. They have been horrible, and Omar needs to take it on his shoulders. Leonardo is just terrible. Why, among all his other strengths, does Arena not see this? Why not back to the AJ/Omar pair? There is no way Gargan on the right is a worse option than Leonardo in the middle.

  3. This is the problem with the U.S. National team. MLS.

    This game showed the exact same style of play that I have seen from the national team. Where players from the other can sit in the midfield with ball and there is no pressure put on them at all to get rid of the ball. In Europe those players would not have enough time to breath and someone would be on top of them.

    • It depends. I think there is actually more pressure put on a player with the ball in MLS than in Serie A. Perhaps, more than in La Liga as well. But if your comparison is against EPL, then sure.

      • That is not true. It just appears so because players are better at relieving pressure, especially when playing out of the back, in those leagues.

    • Not sure what league you are watching? The routine in MLS is for the body to be played and not the ball.
      Portland’s midfield routinely get drilled especially Nagbe. Tide got turned when when Portland put LA on their heels and Timbers went on the front foot.

      • No… more like Gerrard should have came out…he provided nothing in the offense, nor the defense for that matter. But sometimes that is the problem of having super stars on big teams…young potential US players get sacrificed, when they need a spark off the bench in order not to avoid any controversy…in this case Lleget paid the price.

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