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Sunday, April 24, 2011
GALAXY: Donovan's goals overshadow calls

By Scott French

Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan scored two goals in the Galaxy's shutout win over the Timber.

The Galaxy got an easy one Saturday night, pummeling Portland, 3-0, at Home Depot Center after scoring twice in the first eight minutes, and if both of those strikes came courtesy of some questionable officiating, L.A. will take it.

Landon Donovan scored twice, converting an eighth-minute penalty kick and heading home a Juan Pablo Angel cross in the 67th, and fed Chad Barrett for the fourth-minute opener. The goals were his first in a dozen games for the Galaxy, dating to Sept. 18, not that he cared.

“You guys love those stats, don't you?” Donovan responded when it was brought up in the locker room afterward. “How many wins do we have in that time? Nobody knows, huh?”

Well, Landon, let's see: 3-2-0 to end the regular season last year, 2-1-0 in the playoffs, 2-0-1 this season with you on the field. That's 7-3-1 in games Donovan played but didn't score since his last goal for L.A. Not bad at all.

“I could care less about scoring,” said Donovan, who had missed the previous three games with a minor knee injury. “I want to win. I'm not as much of a scorer anymore. I think you guys have seen both with the U.S. team and this year, that part of my game has not been the same as it was when I was younger, but I want to win, and it feels good to win.”

Said David Beckham, whose passes started the sequence leading to the first two goals: “Of course, it's great to see him back scoring. … It's good to have goals coming from elsewhere, but I know he enjoys scoring goals.”

Barrett, who has finally found his footing with the Galaxy, tallied for the second straight game, not that it should have counted. The ball bounced up on him, and he controlled it with his arm before half-volleying a bullet off Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins' hand and inside the right post.

Donovan converted a penalty kick four minutes later after Rodney Wallace draped himself around L.A.'s captain for a pass from Beckham. It was certainly a foul, but the initial offense occurred outside the box.

The first eight minutes didn't see referee Ramon Hernandez at his best, but L.A. wasn't complaining.

“A hand ball?” Barrett said when asked about it. “Did I hand-ball it? I did? I thought it hit me in the chest, but I'd have to watch the replay. I knew [the ball] came up. I don't remember it hitting my arm, but it might have. [Hernandez] didn't call it, and we've had some calls go against us the last couple of games, so it's good to get a call our way, I guess.”

The Galaxy (4-1-3), which moved atop the Western Conference standings -- three points ahead of Real Salt Lake, which has four games in hand -- was victimized by a bad penalty-kick decision at D.C. United two weeks ago, watching a victory turn to a draw after Charlie Davies' last-minute dive.

“If it is a hand ball, if it was a penalty, if it wasn't a penalty, it's immaterial. I don't care,” Beckham said. “I'm glad [things even out] because it's been frustrating the last few games, so it's nice that we got a few calls going our way tonight.”

A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:

BEST PLAYER: Donovan, making his first start on the right flank since, it seems, forever, looked recharged, as good as he's been all year, certainly, and better than he was down the stretch last season. And that despite missing a bit of fitness after sitting out the past couple of weeks.

He was inventive, linked teammates, created opportunities and got into dangerous positions. It wasn't luck that he was involved in all three goals.

Beckham, too, was mightily influential -- he's been L.A.'s best field player through eight games -- and Donovan Ricketts made three exceptional saves, on Mamadou “Futty” Danso, and twice on Kenny Cooper, to notch his third shutout in five appearances this season and the Galaxy's fourth of the season.

BEST GOAL: Donovan's second goal, the header, was nice, but we'll go with Barrett's opener, the hand-ball goal. He handled it expertly, so to speak, and that half-volley was a sizzler.

BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Two more players went down hurt, with forward Miguel Lopez exiting at halftime with a knee injury that might be something and midfielder Juninho departing after taking a knock on his foot while passing the ball in the 76th minute. His injury isn't considered major, but tests will say more.

WORTH NOTING: Angel started the game on the bench again because head coach Bruce Arena “thought out forwards the last game [Barrett and Lopez] played well, so I didn't want to make a change.” … A.J. DeLaGarza got the start in place of injured center back Leonardo, as expected, and was very good all night. Only quibble: Jorge Perlaza beat him on the right to set up a Cooper volley that a sliding Ricketts kicked away. … Portland Designated Player Diego Chara, a Colombian midfielder, met up with his Timbers teammates for the first time Saturday and was playing with them after halftime. He didn't achieve much, but who could expect him to?

NEXT: May 1 at FC Dallas, 4 p.m. PT (TV: Galavision)

Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 3, Portland Timbers 0

G -- Chad Barrett (Landon Donovan, David Beckham) 4
G -- Landon Donovan pen. 8
G -- Landon Donvan (Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett) 67

Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan (Paolo Cardozo, 74), David Beckham, Juninho (Michael Stephens, 78), Mike Magee; Chad Barrett, Miguel Lopez (Juan Pablo Angel, 46). Unused subs: Chris Birchall, Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Josh Saunders, Michael Stephens.

Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins; Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Mamadou “Futty” Danso,  Rodney Wallace; Jeremy Hall (Darlington Nagbe, 59), James Marcelin (Diego Chara, 46), Jack Jewsbury, Kalif Alhassan (Sal Zizzo, 72); Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza.

Yellow cards: Wallace 7, Franklin 17, Magee 91+.

Referee: Ramon Hernandez. Att.: 23,719.