'Embarrassing' defeat for Galaxy
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Galaxy faces FC Dallas on Saturday in a showdown between Major League Soccer's two best teams, and good thing: They want to put Wednesday night behind them as quickly as they can.
L.A. was beaten every which way possible in its first visit to the Rose City, a 3-0 romp by the Timbers -- a loss far more one-sided than that score might suggest -- halting a 14-game unbeaten streak that's been going since a May 1 defeat at Dallas.
It might have been the Galaxy's worst performance of the season, and it was surely the lowly Timbers' best. Fine goals by Mike Chabala and Jorge Perlaza gave Portland control before halftime, and L.A.'s second-half adjustments didn't make a whole lot of difference. Eric Brunner's header, after he beat Sean Franklin to Sal Zizzo's corner kick in the 68th minute, ended all doubt.
The Galaxy (12-3-9) were beaten to nearly every ball, were overrun everywhere on the field, and the one number that speaks loudest is this one: Zero, as in how many shots they managed in the first half.
“I'm surprised in the way we played,” said David Beckham, who delivered a few nice crosses that failed to connect. “We're not a team that usually gets outworked or out-hustled, but if you perform like that, you deserve to lose like that.
“We got home a little embarrassed because of the result, but at the end of the day, it's the first game we've lost in three months. We've been on a good run. It had to end somewhere.”
It was over right from the start. Portland spent most of the first half in and around L.A.'s box, and when the Galaxy gained possession, they couldn't hold it for more than a pass or two.
“From minute one, it seemed like they were on the front foot and we were one the back foot, and we could never regain our confidence,” Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant said. “[That's what happens when you] play positively and aggressively.”
It was as bad a loss, by margin, as the 4-1 debacle March 26 at Real Salt Lake, but at least that one came against what was, at that moment, probably the finest MLS side ever to take the field. These Timbers (7-10-4) hadn't won at home since May 21, six games in all, and had surrendered leads three times in that span.
“I asked the guys from the first minute to try and outrun them every inch of the field, and I think we did that tonight,” Portland coach John Spencer said. “It's a very pleasing result, obviously, after the way things have been going. I think we showed a massive amount of character tonight.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was ready to move on.
“You have to throw it behind you,” he said. “If you dwell on this, you're not going to win any more games. We were beat tonight, and there's absolutely no excuses.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's loss:
BEST PLAYER: All 11 Timbers are worthy, but we're going to single out forward Kenny Cooper, who is going through a tough time in Portland. The former FC Dallas striker returned from a difficult spell in Germany as the Timbers' new star, and Spencer has been shopping him around, looking for the best deal he can find.
Cooper has been coming off the bench and might have again Wednesday, but English forward Eddie Johnson was a last-minute scratch from the Timbers' lineup after sustaining a concussion during pregame, and Cooper got the call -- his first start since May 25.
He responded with a gritty, effective performance, constantly probing the Galaxy backline, combining with teammates -- and his work on the second goal was outstanding. He out-hustled L.A.'s defense in the box, took chances from distance (had his 40-yard try after catching Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders off his line been a tad shorter, it's 3-0 at halftime), and demonstrated that he has something to offer somebody, whether or not it's the Timbers.
Very few decent performances from the Galaxy. Omar Gonzalez was solid, at times sensational at the back -- he's in a run of tremendous form. Juninho worked hard and won balls in midfield, especially in the first half-hour, but he didn't always connect once he had the ball. Beckham's service provided nearly all the danger the Galaxy mustered. Nobody else worth mentioning.
BEST GOAL: The Timbers' first strike was a thing of beauty. It was all Chabala and Darlington Nagbe: They first connected on the left flank, about 40 yards from the end line, with a short, square pass from Nagbe, who then took off up the wing past Franklin. Chabala played the ball forward, and Nagbe took rounded toward the box.
Chabala delayed his run a little -- that kept him from L.A.'s defensive consciousness -- then sprinted toward the box. He hit Nagbe's angled pass back first-time at the 18, and his rising shot rocketed through traffic, took a deflection and sailed past a diving Saunders en route to the twine.
The second goal -- another nice combination, with Cooper holding off Gonzalez to collect Chabala's throw-in and quickly feeding Diego Chara, who found space in the middle of the box for Perlaza's finish -- arrived seven minutes later, and the Timbers were in command.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Galaxy might as well not have shown up. Oh, wait, they didn't.
Portland was on the accelerator from the start, working combinations -- largely through Chara and Perlaza, with Nagbe contributing first from the right flank and then from the left -- into L.A.'s box, and if the final pass or final touch wasn't there to start, the Timbers gained confidence through the first half and were soon testing Saunders.
The game was theirs before the goals started falling, and at no time did L.A. look like they were in the game.
“We were dominated in the first half -- story of the game,” Arena said. “I don't think we ever made adjustments for the [small] size of the field, the [fast, artificial] surface, and we were really outplayed in every position on the field.
“We were dominated, we were beat. I don't think there's anything sophisticated about the analysis of this game. We were beat all over the field.”
The Galaxy were better in the second half, had a few chances -- they managed eight shots -- but it really didn't matter. They were never the better side, not even for a few seconds.
“We made it hard on ourselves,” Donovan said. “We knew they were going to come to play; we knew that this would be the biggest game they played all year. And we weren't ready for it. ... We were just not prepared.
“That's down to every player on the field. We just didn't get it done.”
WORTH NOTING: Dan Keat made his second appearance of the season, and second of the trip, coming on for Juninho in the 81st minute. The Brazilian midfielder is one yellow card away from suspension, but if he isn't cautioned Saturday against FC Dallas, one of his yellows drops from his record. ... Juan Pablo Angel accomplished nothing up front and was one of two players Arena pulled at halftime. Asked what he's not seeing from the veteran Colombian striker that he wants to see, Arena said: “That's something we'll talk to him about. We don't need to do that publicly.” ... Gregg Berhalter was given a rest, with old University of Maryland teammates (and roommates) Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza partnered in central defense. ... The Timbers wore their third, red, “Rose City” kit for the third time this season.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “There's nothing we had. We were lacking in every area,” Arena said. “Technically, we were poor. Physically, we were dominated and outcompeted. If there was ever a game you could point at 10 field players and say you lost your matchup for 90 minutes, this was the game.”
NEXT: Saturday vs. FC Dallas at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket, 8:30 p.m.)
Jeld-Wen Field (Portland, Ore.)
Portland Timbers 3, Galaxy 0
P -- Mike Chabala (Darlington Nagbe) 26
P -- Jorge Perlaza (Diego Chara, Kenny Cooper) 33
P -- Eric Brunner (Sal Zizzo) 68
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Chris Birchall, David Beckham, Juninho (Dan Keat, 81), Michael Stephens (Adam Cristman, 46); Juan Pablo Angel (Miguel Lopez, 46), Landon Donovan. Unused subs: Gregg Berhalter, Bryan Jordan, Mike Magee, Brian Perk.
Yellow cards: Donovan 64, Chara 84, Zizzo 89.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik. Att.: 18,627.