On the strength of first half goals from both Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, the LA Galaxy eked out a 2–1 win over FC Dallas. It wasn’t pretty, but the victory marked a merciful end to LA’s four game winless streak.
Robbie Keane nabbed the first goal in the 24th minute. Zardes played the ball into space ahead of the captain, who dodged two defenders and let loose a meteor from the top of the box that Houston’s keeper Raúl Fernández couldn’t quite reach. The Galaxy have leaned heavily on Keane’s talents this season, probably to a fault — but I doubt any of the 14,615 fans in attendance tonight were worrying about that.
After Keane’s goal, Dallas fell apart. LA pummeled their opponents for the remainder of the first half and in the 44th minute it paid off. Juninho sent a lofting pass into the fray in front of the goal — and Gyasi Zardes picked it out of the air. What looked like a gorgeous header in the run-of-play was revealed as an awkward shoulder flick by the replay. Regardless it was a strong statement for Zardes, who kissed the Galaxy crest as the Angel City Brigade went wild.
“Two good goals. Obviously Keane’s is a spectacular finish, and Gyasi’s in a good spot to put away that goal. We’re pleased with that, and probably had a few opportunities to put away a second one.”
To Dallas’s credit they came out with renewed purpose in the second half. The difference was immediate and apparent: for what seemed like the first time, Dallas managed to possess the ball in the Galaxy’s end of the field. A series of dangerous crosses could’ve easily evened up the score — but what LA’s defense lacked in answers they made up for in luck.
In the 65th minute that luck ran out. Dallas’s Tesho Akindele snuck behind the Galaxy’s back four, received a smart pass from Jair Benitez and finished from point-blank range.
— Jason Manley (@jasoonn) May 22, 2014
Replays show Akindele clearly offside, but the assistant referee’s flag stayed down and suddenly FC Dallas was back in the game. LA was in for 28 nervy minutes – and plenty of close calls – but the Galaxy managed to hold on to the full three points they desperately need.
“Since we were away, it was so quiet after I scored, I thought for sure I was offside. I checked like five times with the assistant ref just to make sure he didn’t raise his flag. It is just pure happiness as a striker when you score a goal, that is what I am paid for, that is why I am here, so to score a goal makes me really happy.”
—Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas
It’s a safe bet that Bruce Arena will still be searching for the perfect lineup for his injury-riddled squad as the Galaxy head into Sunday’s match against Philadelphia. Tonight, Dan Gargan and Gyasi Zardes both had strong showings — though Zardes doesn’t look comfortable going a full 90. And Kenney Walker certainly impressed in his second MLS game, showing a strong awareness of where to send the ball next and why.
“I thought Kenney Walker was outstanding tonight. Simple but very, very effective in the way he played. We talked about simple passes and taking people out of the game — at times he’s taking three or four people out of the game. That’s how you play and that’s how the best players in the world play.”
Of course none of that means LA doesn’t still have issues. We’ll have a full breakdown of this lineup’s effectiveness later in the week – and come Sunday, we’ll see if the Galaxy can continue clawing their way up the Western Conference standings.
LA GALAXY VS FC DALLAS HIGHLIGHTS (LAGALAXY.COM)