Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
Carson, Calif. – Maybe it was World Cup fever, or the constant barrage of fireworks lighting up the sky about the Stub Hub Center, but the fans came out in droves to watch the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers battle to a 2-2 draw before a festive and sold out crowd of 27,000 at the StubHub Center.
Following a tepid and tentative first half, the second 45 minutes were a zesty affair.
Landon Donovan produced a clever bit of footwork inside the arc in the 65th minute to spring Marcelo Sarvas inside the area. Sarvas, who had clanged a lovely bender off the far post in the first half, did not miss a second time, beating Donovan Ricketts far post low to open the scoring on the evening.
The Timbers responded quickly, led by Diego Valeri, who orchestrated several minutes of sustained pressure in the Galaxy area before leveling the match two minutes after the Galaxy’s opener by crushing an errant rebound from edge of the box past a helpless Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
The ball deflected off Galaxy defender AJ De La Garza, but was struck with far too much force to be diverted off-frame.
The Timbers were not done, however, and just three minutes later, defender Jorge Villafaña feasted on a sloppy clearance by the Galaxy back line and pounced on a loose ball inside the area to score and give the visitors the 2-1 lead.
For the final 20 minutes of the match, Portland bunkered in and attempted to thwart a furious Galaxy onslaught. Donovan, who had already figured in the first Galaxy goal, was the engine of the attack repeatedly. Twice he went down in the Portland area; once, referee Jair Marrufo ignored the tumble. Minutes later, Diego Chara, beaten by Donovan, clipped the Galaxy #10 on the edge of the area, but the Galaxy’s Juninho could not convert on the ensuing free kick.
As tempers continued to flare, the temperature of the match rose, too, and finally in the 86th minute the Galaxy broke through. Donovan chipped a clever ball over the Timbers back line to substitute Baggio Husidic, who beat Ricketts with a cross across the goal mouth, where both Robbie Keane and Rob Friend awaited for the tap in. They were both denied, however, when Timbers center back Rauwshan McKenzie charged in, attempting to cut off the play, and knocked in the own goal.
The final five minutes saw the Galaxy send six more shots at the Timbers goal, to no avail, as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Portland Timbers face an unusual stretch in their schedule. They will play bitter rivals first place Seattle Sounders twice in the space of four days, both on the road at CenturyLink Field.
The Galaxy have a slightly easier road. They will take on second place Real Salt Lake in one week’s time, on Saturday at home.