BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – For the first time in three games, things went the LA Galaxy’s way.
A second-half collapse led to a 4-3 loss to San Jose and a last-second hiccup resulted in a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia in their last two games. But without David Beckham or Landon Donovan in the starting lineup, Robbie Keane’s goals on either side of halftime gave the Galaxy a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday.
The loss in front of a sellout crowd at Toyota Park ended the Fire’s four-game unbeaten streak and moved LA into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Beckham was serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation, while Donovan was a second-half substitute as he nurses an injured hip.
Although it was the Galaxy that eventually came out on top, the Fire almost struck early when the ball bounced to a wide-open Jalil Anibaba just outside of the six-yard box. The defender got all of the ball but his volley went wide.
In the 22nd minute, a cross from Keane struck Anibaba in the arm on the edge of the box, and referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the penalty spot, although it was unclear whether Anibaba touched the ball in the box. Keane calmly slotted home the penalty kick to the right, sending goalkeeper Sean Johnson diving the opposite direction.
Chicago had a chance to equalize in the 43rd minute when Patrick Nyarko found himself on the end of a wide-open header at the edge of the six-yard box, but once again, he headed wide as the Fire left another chance begging.
Nether team was sharp in front of net – with Juninho, Keane Michael Stephens all sending shots well over the bar and the Fire rarely threatening – but Chris Rolfe eventually found a opportunity to test Josh Saunders. Gonzalo Segares squared the ball across the box, but Saunders went low to make a fingertip save to deny his precise strike.
In the 78th minute, LA made it 2-0 when Landon Donovan served Keane a breakaway pass and the Irish international beat Johnson at the near post to effectively putting the game out of reach.
After ending a two-game losing streak, the Galaxy will try to climb further out of the depths of the Western Conference when they play Portland on Saturday.
Despite holding 60 percent of possession and outshooting the Galaxy 14-13, the Fire were blanked for the second game in a row, ending their best run of the season.
With their four-game unbeaten streak, the Fire were climbing toward the top of the Eastern Conference before they lost at Toyota Park on Sunday for just the second time this season. They’ll try to redeem themselves when they host Vancouver on Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Robbie Keane||He wasn't particularly sharp, but you can't argue with a two-goal haul. LA will hope he's starting to come around.|
|2||A.J. DeLaGarza||Made his share of crucial tackles and helped keep the Fire from breaking through LA's tight lines.|
|3||Gonzalo Segares||Active and a threat in attack, he fed Chris Rolfe for the Fire's best chance and was a threat out of the back.|