Carson, Calif. -- Despite having stars Robbie Keane (injury) and Nigel de Jong (suspension) out of the lineup, the LA Galaxy earned a 5-2 home win over Real Salt Lake Saturday night at StubHub Center behind goals from Gyasi Zardes, Emmanuel Boateng, Giovani dos Santos, Mike Magee, and Steven Gerrard.
The Galaxy came into the game as the West's fourth place team after reeling off of a 4-1 win in Houston last Friday. Real Salt Lake, a longtime playoff rival of LA over the years, entered in third place with three more points than LA.
Just five minutes into the game, the Galaxy earned a penalty-kick when Giovani dos Santos was pushed to the ground by the Salt Lake defense as a cross was coming into the box. Steven Gerrard took the kick, but goalkeeper Nick Rimando guessed correctly to the right and made the save.
In the 12th minute, dos Santos received a long pass and was able to maneuver around his defender and get a shot against just the goalkeeper. The shot beat Rimando, but hit the post and bounced out.
The momentum of the game changed in the 16th minute when Juan Manuel Martinez was the recipient of a cross into the box and outjumped AJ DeLaGarza for the ball, heading it into goal past Brian Rowe for a 1-0 lead.
However, in the 19th minute, hometown hero Gyasi Zardes stepped up when he single-handedly took on three Real Salt Lake defenders. With the rest of his team trying to catch up, Zardes shot and scored past Rimando, who had no chance of stopping the well-taken shot.
"I’m thinking, ‘[expletive] happens,’" said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena about the bad breaks during the early part of the game. "That’s what I’m thinking actually. We were playing so well up to that point that it didn’t bother me and I don’t think it bothered the team. It took a great effort by Gyasi Zardes to bring us back in the game and I think his goal gave us a lot of confidence.”
Then the Galaxy made it 2-1 in the 26th minute when Emmanuel Boateng got the ball on the side and was able to get a cross into the box with a defender on him. With Rimando charging out, Mike Magee was able to volley in the shot with his left foot for a second LA goal.
At the end of the first half, LA continued to be the dominant team, creating scoring threats versus Real Salt Lake. In the 41st minute, Giovani dos Santos got the ball at the top of the box and passed in to Zardes, who left it off for a streaking Boateng. Emmanuel made it a 3-1 LA lead with a shot to the corner of goal for his first of the year.
After an unfortunate start that could have included more goals and an early lead, LA seemed poised to make a statement and they finished the first half with a remarkable goal that saw Boateng display his speed and beat his defender. The ball came loose as he made the turn and both men fell to the ground, but Boateng was able to punch the ball out to Giovani dos Santos who made an incredible chip shot without getting a good look at goal. The shot found the far corner for a 4-1 LA lead, causing a jubilant reaction from players and the 25,867 fans in attendance.
Real Salt Lake got a call to go their way in the 70th minute when the ball was crossed in front of the goal and the referees claimed that Magee held the arm of an opposing player. Javier Morales took the penalty-kick and made it a 4-2 game with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.
The second half was merely a curtain call for the Galaxy, as they controlled the ball, let the clock wind down, and kept possession. Both teams created some threatening attacks, but Rimando and Rowe were up to the task.
The Galaxy fans were treated to a final goal in stoppage time when Steven Gerrard got the ball at midfield, faked three Real Salt Lake players, and then dribbled at Rimando with a shot past him for a 5-2 LA win.
With the win, LA is 4-1-2 on the season and will travel to Sporting KC for a road game next Sunday.
RSL – Juan Manuel Martinez (Assisted by Luke Mulholland) 16’
LA – Gyasi Zardes (Assisted by Baggio Husidic) 19’
LA – Mike Magee (Assisted by Emmanuel Boateng) 26’
LA – Emmanuel Boateng (Assisted by Gyasi Zardes, Giovani dos Santos) 41’
LA – Giovani dos Santos (Assisted by Emannuel Boateng, Mike Magee) 45’
RSL – Javier Morales (Penalty Kick) 70’
LA – Steven Gerrard 90’+1
By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com