By Brian Kowalski
Carson, Calif. -- Sitting in the fourth position in the MLS Western Conference, a short-handed Los Angeles Galaxy club triumphed over Columbus on Saturday night, 2-1, at the StubHub Center in front of 24,693 fans.
LA came into the game after a week of rough news, as Gyasi Zardes broke a bone in his foot against Vancouver and Steven Gerrard injured his hamstring during the same game. Additionally, Nigel de Jong terminated his contract and parted ways with the team so that he could join Galatasaray. Lastly, Robbie Keane did not play in this match, as he finished out his international career with the Republic of Ireland, scoring a goal.
LA Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena’s lineup featured four changes to the starting lineup from last weekend’s match against Vancouver: A.J. DeLaGarza, Raul Mendiola, Jeff Larentowicz, and Mike Magee started in place of Jelle Van Damme (MCL injury), de Jong, Gerrard, and Zardes
At the beginning of the match, Columbus came out strong, possessing the ball and taking shots on goal, including multiple shots by Dilly Duka in the first minutes. However, about 15 minutes into the game, LA began to ramp up the pressure on the Crew with ball possession and attacking play through the rest of the first half, causing Columbus’ offensive attack to become almost non-existent.
In the 22nd and 27th minutes, Mike Magee had attempts on goal, and Ashley Cole found himself near goal with opportunities as well, but neither player could convert.
LA was not having a problem getting the ball into the final third of the field or attacking with shots, but throughout the year and in this match as well, they continually struggled to get truly threatening shots on goal.
During the week, Arena explained, “We haven’t been able to wrestle to a point where we’ve got the whole team on the field.”
In the second half, both teams seemed more likely to score, as the game opened up and players found more space. In the 61st minute, LA again had the ball sent into the 18-yard box and Sebastian Lletget had the Galaxy’s best chance to score, but his shot was at goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Columbus immediately countered with an Ola Kamara shot that was just wide of goal. In the 72nd minute, Kamara again had a great shot that nicked the post past the outstretched Brian Rowe.
Bruce Arena made key substitutions in the final twenty minutes, bringing Baggio Husidic and Alan Gordon into the game. It paid off for the Galaxy as Husidic scored on a perfectly driven shot in the 78th minute that found the far corner of goal from 20-plus yards out.
Then in the 82nd minute, Giovani dos Santos got the ball on a turnover and was basically alone against the goalkeeper with 45 yards of space and a defender chasing from behind. As Giovani dribbled into the box with Clark standing in no-man’s land, he chipped it over Clark and into the net for a 2-0 Galaxy lead.
In stoppage time, the Crew earned a penalty-kick on a Daniel Steres foul when his momentum sent him into a Columbus forward. The Crew missed the PK, but were able to score on the follow-up by Adam Jahn to make it 2-1 with a couple minutes to go.
The Galaxy held on for the win, tying them on points with Colorado and Real Salt Lake in the West. The victory also gave Arena his 200th MLS win.
“It’s an honor to play for a great coach," said dos Santos. "I just want to congratulate him for his 200 wins in MLS.”
In their next match, the Galaxy will travel to Rio Tinto Stadium for a match against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, Sept. 7.