Los Angeles Galaxy clinch playoff spot with 2-1 home win over FC Dallas

September 21, 2014

Carson, Calif. -- The Los Angeles  Galaxy came into their home game Saturday night against FC Dallas with a chance to tie Seattle for first place in the Western Conference after learning earlier in the day that Seattle played New York and lost badly on the road.

Fortunately for the Galaxy and its 22,863 fans in attendance, the team -- with the help of an effective late substitution by coach Bruce Arena -- was able to avoid the same fate, earning not only a 2-1 win, but also a playoff berth in the process.

FC Dallas started the game well with strong defense and movement up the field. In the 11th minute, Andres Escobar had a quality shot from the top of the 18-yard box, but it sailed wide.

The Galaxy looked poised to score the game’s opening goal in the 26th minute when Robbie Keane got the ball in midfield and started running at the Dallas defense.  He kicked the ball wide to Donovan, who made a move against his defender and got a shot on goal that Raul Fernandez saved.  However, the ball came loose and Gyasi Zardes had a shot on goal from about seven yards out, but unfortunately for LA, it went over the goalpost.

Throughout the first half, the Galaxy created plenty of offensive chances, but Dallas was there every time to prevent a goal or a shot on target.

The second half began with both teams running at full octane, much like the first half, but it was Dallas that got the game’s opening goal.

In the 55th minute, Blas Perez was defended by Dan Gargan in the box.  Dallas crossed the ball into Perez, who climbed the back of Gargan for a header past a leaping Penedo and into the corner to put LA at a 1-0 deficit.

“Fantastic goal, great finish by Blas," said FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja.  "Heading the ball and putting it in the corner hard. Great cross as well; I thought it was one of the best moments in the game for us.”

In the 62nd minute, Dallas almost made it a second goal when Kellyn Acosta got the ball on the right flank and decided to have a shot.  Penedo dived for the ball to the far post and the shot went wide.

It seemed like Dallas had all the momentum, but then Zardes won a ball in the box with his hustle, and with his back to the goal, passed off to Keane, who immediately shot to the corner and scored to tie the game at 1-1.

Over the next 10 minutes, the game would pick up even more intensity and determination from both teams with yellow cards, hard defense, and quick passing, as the game was rapidly changing direction.

As the game neared the end, the play did not slow.  The Galaxy were attacking, and two crosses that they sent into the box were scoring threats for late sub Alan Gordon to head onto goal.

The third time was the charm though.  Keane had the ball wide and juked his defender to open himself up for a cross into Gordon.  Gordon got on the end of it and headed it past Fernandez to the far corner for a 2-1 Galaxy lead and comeback win.

The game-winning goal was Gordon's fifth with the LA Galaxy this season in just his ninth appearance for the club.  Gordon's scoring prowess off the bench has been reminiscent of former Galaxy super-sub Mike Magee.

"He’s been a massive threat when he comes on the field and obviously has a lot of aerial power as you’ve seen today," said Keane.  "His technique is brilliant, so we know if we can get him the ball and get him into good areas that he can be on the end of it.”

The passion in the stadium felt like a playoff atmosphere, and considering that LA now will officially be participating in the 2014 MLS postseason, such intensity will be something the team's younger players will need to become familiar with in the very near future.

With the win, the Galaxy are now 15-5-9 on the season.  The victory keeps the LA Galaxy unbeaten in eight-straight games.  More importantly, LA is now tied with Seattle in the West for first place with 54 points.

After the game, Gordon said that this was a “character win and a character team,” and that he felt good about the Galaxy’s chances going forward.

LA Galaxy play next when they face Eastern Conference rival New York Red Bulls at StubHub Center Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m. PT live on ESPN2.

Scoring Summary
DAL – Blas Perez (Assisted by Landon Donovan) 54’
LA – Robbie Keane (Assisted by Gyasi Zardes) 62’
LA – Alan Gordon (Assisted by Robbie Keane) 84’

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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