Goals from Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes lifted the LA Galaxy to a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers on national television Saturday afternoon at a thunderous Providence Park.
Nigel de Jong returned from his suspension, and was heartily booed with every touch of the ball by the Timbers Army.
But it was LA who would have the last laugh early: In the 7th minute, LA methodically switched the ball in the Portland final third, isolating Giovani dos Santos vs. Diego Valeri. After luring Valeri in, dos Santos dribbled right and crossed, and in typical Robbie Keane fashion, the Galaxy captain reversed his run, setting Keane up for a simple tap-in.
Four minutes later, the game could have turned ugly as LA doubled their lead off a textbook sequence. Jelle Van Damme played an inch-perfect long ball to Emmanuel Boateng, and after an even better first touch by Boateng, he played a cross that deflected off the sprawling Nat Borchers right into the path of Gyasi Zardes, who easily re-directed into the net.
But Portland's loyal fans refused to give up, and as the half wore on, the Timbers grew more and more into the match. When Zarek Valentin got open on the top of the 18-yard box and swept a low shot past Rowe and in, Portland looked to have hope.
Unfortunately for the Timbers however, Nat Borchers pulled up right before the half with a painful ankle-related injury, killing Portland's momentum.
The action didn't let up in the second half as both teams exchanged quality chances. Jelle Van Damme was on his game tonight offensively, delicately placing a long ball to an open Robbie Keane inside the area, but his left-footed volley soared over the bar. For the Timbers, Diego Valeri squared to Fanendo Adi in a dangerous position at one point, but Brian Rowe was there to win the ball away from the target forward.
In stoppage time, an erroneous hand ball ball gave the Timbers one last chance, but Valeri's cross was behind Adi's run and his header was wide as LA held on.