The Los Angeles Galaxy can be tough enough to beat when you play the perfect game at the back. When you commit an unforced error the way Matt Hedges did this evening, you’re certainly in trouble.
Juninho earned the spoils of the hard work of Jose Villarreal, closing down Dallas’ rookie defender, as he broke the scoreless draw in the 66th minute with a well-placed shot.
The sequence began as Hedges tried to play out of the back for Dallas. He was closed down by Villarreal, and misjudged the angle he had to outlet to his backline partner, George John. As he tried to play the ball to John (Diagram A), the ball struck Villarreal in the legs and caromed into the Dallas area to the right of keeper Kevin Hartman.
It may have been the quick reaction of Juninho that truly gave the Galaxy the chance to take the lead though. Both the Brazilian midfielder and Robbie Keane were positioned behind the 18 year old Villarreal, but only Juninho followed through to get into open space near the penalty spot. Hartman instinctively went to try and challenge for the ball, but Villarreal was too speedy and beat the veteran keeper to the sphere.
From that point, Villarreal eluded Hartman (diagram B), and astutely looked up rather than try to beat the retreating Hedges by himself. He caught Juninho out of the corner of his eye. He then played a perfect cross and gave Juninho an easy tap-in as John couldn’t catch up.
A late goal from Todd Dunivant sealed it, though he was also involved in a key moment early in the match. It appeared that Fabian Castillo was in one-on-one with Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders. Dunivant clearly took down the Colombian winger, potentially denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Referee Kevin Stott failed to punish him for a last-man professional foul though, only producing a yellow card. That ounce of discretion gave Dunivant the chance to notch a goal, the product of a pretty triangular play between himself, Keane, and Michael Stephens in the 84th minute.