Whenever the LA Galaxy travel to Portland, you should expect a crazy game no matter what. The LA Galaxy came out with a deserving 2-2 tie over the Portland Timbers Sunday afternoon, in a game where the weather was typical Portland weather with rain and wind at 25 MPH. Slick turf and interesting conditions, it only added to the suspense of the game.
The match got underway with the Galaxy turning the ball over numerous times and having a hard time getting used to the wet surface of Providence Park. While the Galaxy took a while to be able to control the ball and play their possession-style game, the Timbers were flying on the flanks, and the tandem of Nagbe-Chara-Wallace giving the Galaxy fits.
The Galaxy finally got a chance when Robbie Rogers placed a nice lofty ball over Timbers center back Nate Borchers on to the oncoming Gyasi Zardes who blasted the shot to the side netting. I am very excited with the progression of Zardes as I feel he is improving at the little things and is more calm with the ball.
The Portland Timbers struck first. In the 31st minute after a counter attack with a long throw by Timbers keeper’ Adam Kwarasey to Diego Chara, who gave a pass to the left side to Darlington Nagbe with a little flick to Rodney Wallace, who then slotted a through ball between the Galaxy defense to a running Adi who curled a shot right past the outstretched arms of Brian Rowe. The first goal that the Galaxy allowed this season, and Portland’s first goal this season.
The Galaxy had another great chance before the first half ended as Robbie Keane and Juninho had a good 1-2 combination which lead to Robbie Keane 1 on 1 with Kwarasey in which he made a sliding save.
The second half turned out to be a little different and if you know Galaxy and Timbers, you knew this game was going to need 90+ to find out a result. As explained by Robbie Keane post game to LAGalaxy.com: “Every time that we come here, it seems to be the same game all the time … But there’s no way that we deserved to lose that game.”
It was filled with chances, but they’re finishing wasn’t up to par, and that’s okay as the LA Galaxy are showing at this early stage of the season they are going to grind out every game. The Galaxy had a few chances that belted high and wide with Baggio Hasidic receiving a ball at the penalty spot where he booted over and a shot just wide by Gyasi with another cross by Omar Gonzalez, who in my eyes has performed very well in these 2 games and is playing like 2012 Omar in the early stages of this season.
Bruce made a substitution in the 62nd minute bringing on new signing Mika Vayrynen, who played a very good aggressive game in the midfield, where he was paired with Juninho. In his 28 or so minutes that he got to play, I saw many good things out of Mika and I can see a possible starting spot being held for him.
Going back to the game, in the 65th minute, Jose Villarreal had the ball on the left wing from a pass by Mika, and crossed a beautiful pass to a running Gyasi Zardes who redirected it into the side netting to give the Galaxy a 1-1 score. Great ball and great run. Nothing Kwarasey could do about that one! For Zardes that was his first goal of the season, but I can see him going on another scoring spree and being one of the league leaders in goals again.
This second half was more of a Galaxy style game as the counter-attacking style that the Timbers were using to their advantage in the first half was coming up short, as the Galaxy held most of the possesion. In the 76th minute, Bruce looked to his bench and brought in Alan Gordon for Jose Villarreal, who had another solid outing, but was taken out due to fitness. “Jose was very good, very good. He got a little tired at the end. I took him off, maybe we could have kept him on a little longer but he played very well.” said Bruce Arena.
ALAN.. ALAN.. ALAN.. you just had to know something was coming at the end of this game.
“I thought that I was going to get a chance or two and it’s my job to put one of those away,” Alan Gordon said, post-game. “And tonight that happened.”
Now here is when the fun starts, in the 90th minute of play, Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe darted right past Todd Dunivant, who substituted for Robbie Rogers in the 87th minute, for what I thought would of for sure seen AJ De La Garza come in, but I see Bruce came in with the veteran, and placed a ball into the penalty box to Adi who took a shot which deflected off Rowe and got the rebound and slotted it through the legs of Omar Gonzalez. 2-1 Timbers.
There was that sense that it just wasn’t over. It can’t be right? Hold your horses Timbers Army. The Galaxy earned a corner kick off the restart and a nicely played corner to the penalty spot to a jumping ALAN GORDON who headed it into the top left corner and sent Alan Gordon and the rest of the Galaxy towards the sideline for the celebration! WOW. What Alan Gordon had done for many teams around the MLS, finally came in the clutch and provided the Galaxy a leap of glory and gave the Galaxy a 2-2 tie on the road in Portland.
“It was exciting at the end, it was disappointing to go down so late after we came into the game and took control in the second half,” said Gordon. “For us to steal a point is huge for us and our momentum as we go back to L.A.”
What a game. Gritty. We always expect excellence from the Galaxy, but being so early in the season, seeing the team come out and work so hard to get this equalizer was AWESOME!
Bruce Arena said to the media postgame “We played well. We really did. Give credit to them. They got two goals out of this, to their credit. We had to fight real hard to get a point out of this but we deserve the point.” Bruce added “We played well today. It would have been awful not to get a point out of this game. Our team was very good over the last 60 minutes today.”
2 Games, 4 points. In my personal view, this was a wonderful result under very tough circumstances. When you’re on the road, I always feel you need to get the 1 point at least and they did that. Its early. And I’ll keep harping on that, but these 2 games are showing me the camaraderie that this team already has together and it will only get better.
The Galaxy are holding their heads high as they fly back to hot Southern California after a gut wrenching tie, and a great result coming back to The StubHub Center on March 21st against the Houston Dynamo.
For all the naysayers, Bruce had a sturdy message to you all “Don’t worry about September and October. We’re worried about next Saturday now. I’m happy you all have us ready for September and October but we have a lot of games ahead to make our team better.”