Robbie Keane records a brace, as the Los Angeles Galaxy held off the New England Revolution's late charge to win 4-2 on Sunday at the StubHub Center. LA also made history with this victory, becoming the first club in Major League Soccer to reach 300 wins.
LA jumps ahead
The Revolution and the Galaxy entered this match in different forms. The Galaxy have not lost a game since March. New England has not won a game since April 1st; in their first 10 games, the Revs had only won once. However, it was the Revolution that started the game with more initiative.
Despite the Revs fast start, the Galaxy was able to pull ahead in the 12th minute. The captain Keane made his return to the first team and the starting lineup in five games. He had been recovering from the knee surgery he had in late March. However, it only took him a few minutes to get back on the scoring sheet for LA.
Gyasi Zardes started the play on the right hand side of the pitch near the corner flag with the ball. He was guarded by a defender and was able to lose him by displaying quick footwork. Zardes suddenly changed direction to his right and took off. Running right, next to the end line, he waited for the right moment to center the ball.
Before the defense closed off Zardes’ angle, he sent a low fast pass to a wide open Keane. The Irish international had completed a run into the heart of the penalty box and simply tapped the ball into net to make it 1-0 for LA.
After going down a goal, the Revs kept on pushing but nothing came from it. In total, New England was able to create 19 shots, and eight of those shots were on target. However, the stingy defense of LA, and goalkeeper Brian Rowe’s six saves, frustrated the Revolution for the majority of the match.
New England’s frustration grew more when Giovani dos Santos made it 2-0 with a thunderous volley. The Galaxy’s Emmanuel Boateng centered in the ball, but his pass was headed away from a Revolution defender. The header floated in the air and landed right into the path of dos Santos.
The Mexican international did not attempt to control the ball and just fired a shot from nearly 20-yards-out. The ball curved into the top right hand corner to give the Galaxy a 2-0 lead at 23rd minute. Dos Santos scored his fourth goal in four games, since returning from his leg injury.
After LA’s second goal, the Galaxy started to pick up momentum. Los Angeles seemed destined of scoring their third goal before the half ended. However, New England’s keeper Bobby Shuttleworth did his best to keep his club in the game with his five saves. His heroic effort went to waste as Keane completed his brace in the 45th minute.
This goal was the combination of LA’s big three upfront. Zardes started the play laying the ball off for Dos Santos at the top of the box. The Olympic Gold Medal winner was confronted by three defenders as he entered the box. He then quickly dished out the ball to Zardes on the left. The U.S. international had space and ran towards the goal.
As he prepared himself for a shot, Zardes quickly delivered a smooth low cross to a wide open Keane. Once again, Keane simply tapped the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-0 for LA going into the break. The Irish international recorded his 76th and 77th MLS goal in just five years playing for LA.
The Revs capitalize on LA’s slow start to the half
New England’s head coach Jay Heaps saw that a change was needed so he brought in Teal Bunbury at the break. Right away, the former U.S. international made a difference and started to make runs at the defense. LA started the half sloppy and the Revolution pounced on them right away with two goals in two minutes.
The first was a long range rocket from Kelyn Rowe at the 67th minute. The play before ended with what appeared to be a hand ball from the Galaxy in the box. Some Revolution players were complaining but the referee did not call a penalty. LA’s defense was able to regroup and blast the ball out of the box.
Revs’ Gershon Koffie was first to the ball and controlled it with his chest. He then instantly passed the ball to Rowe near center of the box. The former U.S. youth international took enough steps to set up his shot and then first a ball from edge of the box to the top left hand corner to cut LA’s lead to 3-1.
Before LA was able to recover from that goal, Juan Agudelo scored the Revs second in the 69th minute. The play started with the ball being crossed in towards the former U.S. international in the center of the box. However, Jelle Van Damme won the challenge, but did not clear the ball far.
Substitute Femi-Hollinger Janzen was there to head the ball back to Agudelo, who was now wide open. Agudelo blasted the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-2. The StubHub Center went quiet after that goal and the Revs seemed destined to tie the match.
Goncalves injury, Gerrard ices the game
However, seven minutes after Heaps made his last substitution of the game, starting defender Jose Goncalves left the match due to an injury at the 77th minute. He was not able to return so the Revs were forced to close the game a man down.
They were still able to string up few passes and create a few chances. Agudelo nearly scored his second of the match in the 82nd minute, but his shot dinged off the crossbar. However, with the Revs down a man the Galaxy were now able to find some space and gain back their rhythm.
Substitute Steven Gerrard was able to score the fourth goal in stoppage to seal the victory. He received a ball from Mike Magee in the penalty box. He controlled the ball and eluded one defender with his touch on the ball.
Then the former English international was confronted by another defender but the crafty veteran slipped passed him by changing directions to his left. Gerrard then gathered himself to chip the ball over Shuttleworth to win the match 4-2 at the 93rd minute.
Where they stand, who they face next
With this victory, the Galaxy are now in second place with 18 points in nine matches played. They are only two points away from first place Colorado Rapids. As for the Revolution, the disappointment of this season continues as they drop to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 10 points in 11 games.
LA will have the opportunity to seize control of first place in the West on Wednesday when they travel to Talen Energy Stadium to face the Philadelphia Union. The Revolution will be heading back home to host the last place club, the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.