The Los Angeles Galaxy were no joke before, now they have Steven Gerrard.
The legendary English midfielder notched a goal and an assist in his MLS debut, and Robbie Keane scored his second hat trick in as many games leading LA Galaxy to a resounding 5-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at StubHub Center.
The San Jose defense gave up five consecutive goals after taking a 2-0 lead on a first half Quincy Amarikwa brace. Amarikwa scored the game’s first goal, on a clinical right-footed finish from a world-class assist by Sanna Nyassi in the 22nd minute, and with a simple finish inside the six-yard box three minutes later to put San Jose in the driver’s seat.
Robbie Keane answered for the Galaxy on a penalty kick in the 30th minute, and Steven Gerrard evened things on an opportunistic finish in the 37th minute for the first goal of his MLS career. Things really got out of hand in the second half starting with Keane’s second goal in the 64th minute.
The Irishman completed the hat-trick with a second penalty in the 80th minute, and Sebastian Liguet sealed the deal with a headed finish in the 92nd.
San Jose Head coach Dominic Kinnear was blunt in his assessment of the game:
“We gave up five goals, we lost the game. We stopped doing the good things we were doing early on, we got away from that, and they took advantage of the space we gave them and they have good players.”
The Earthquakes, who remain in seventh place in the Western Conference with 25 points at the end of the day’s MLS fixtures, saw their losing streak extended to three games, and are likely to fall deeper out of the playoff picture with five of the six teams currently occupying spots above the red line all playing this weekend.
Kinnear didn’t make any changes to his starting eleven, but continues to feel the absence of Chris Wondolowski and Cordell Cato who remain with their respective international teams on Gold Cup duty.
San Jose opened scoring against the run of play, when Marvell Wynne hit a through ball that sprung Nyassi down the right flank. Nyassi first-timed a perfect cross-field ball that found Amarikwa for a first-time finish of his own into the bottom right corner of goal.
Amarikwa made an encore just minutes later following a Matias Perez Garcia free kick that the Galaxy failed to clear. Amarikwa cleaned up the loose ball in the middle of the box for another clinical finish into the right corner.
The striker wasn’t all that thrilled about scoring in a losing effort:
“I’d rather score no goals and two other guys score goals and we win 2-0. You’re coming on the road trying to get points and unfortunately we were unable to do that tonight. I think we let the ref’s decisions on certain plays get the best of us and rather than buckle down and accept that it wasn’t going our way I think we kind of let that play into us a little bit and unfortunately we allowed LA to get back into the game.”
One of those decisions led to the Galaxy getting back into the game, when Tommy Thompson was called for a foul in the penalty box after catching Gerrard with an elbow that he protested was inadvertent. The appeal fell on deaf ears, and Keane calmly finished from the penalty spot to cut the Earthquakes’ lead to 2-1.
LA tied the game seven minutes later on Steven Gerrard’s first MLS goal. Gerrard started the break, galloping up the middle of the field before playing the ball out wide, eventually finding Baggio Husidic. Husidic put a low cross into the box that deflected off Clarence Goodson and back to Gerrard in the middle of the box for a finish the Englishman could’ve put home in his sleep.
Keane and Gerrard teamed up for the game-winner after the break, on a designed set-piece that caught the Quakes napping. Gerrard put a low cross at Bingham’s near post on a free kick just outside the penalty box. The ball found Keane who beat Fatai Alashe to the spot and the reigning MLS Player of the Year flicked the ball past the unsuspecting keeper.
Gerrard nearly matched his Irish counterpart with a brace of his own when his bending free kick from 20 yards out smacked off the crossbar.
The shot was a warning of what would come next, when Bingham reacted late to a low near post shot from Keane, causing the keeper to deflect the ball into the middle of the box. In his attempt to clean up the mess Bingham clipped Husidic, giving the Galaxy their second penalty of the night.
Again it was Keane who blasted the ball past Bingham, completing the hat-trick, and giving him his ninth goal of the season.
As Kinnear concisely summed it up:
“The first 45 minutes were good. The second 45 minutes were not so good.”
It got worse in extra time when the tired Quakes defense failed to mark Sebastian Lletget in the center of the box. The San Francisco native made San Jose pay by heading home a Robbie Rogers chip into the box for their fifth and final goal.
Friday marked the third time in five games the Galaxy have scored five goals. Los Angeles has now scored 20 goals in their last five games.
The Earthquakes taken on Manchester United Tuesday in an International Champions Cup game at Avaya Stadium before resuming MLS play next Sunday at Vancouver.