What David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan offered Saturday night in Portland ought to frighten the rest of the league.
LA's big names tallied all five goals and added three assists in a 5-3 romp over the Portland Timbers, the fifth victory in seven games for the defending champions. That comes on the heels of a seven-game winless streak that left them at the bottom of the Western Conference and had some pundits prematurely calling this season a wash.
Those days are long gone. Four of the goals Saturday, two of them gorgeous curling strikes by Beckham from outside the box, arrived in an eight-minute, 46-second stretch of the first half. That erased Kris Boyd's early finish and put the champs on the path to the full three points.
HIGHLIGHTS: POR vs LA
Beckham, back from a two-game suspension, was the star, bending a blast into the left-side netting from 30 yards when the Timbers afforded him too much time and space, then arcing a free kick from 24 yards over the wall and into the lower-left corner five minutes later.
“They stepped off of me [on the first goal], and so I thought, ‘Why not?’” he told media afterward. “The last time I scored a goal like that was for Manchester United against Deportivo [La Coruña in an April 2002 UEFA Champions League game] – it was very similar to that.”
Portland general manager Gavin Wilkinson, in his first game as interim coach, wasn't pleased.
“He’s one of the best strikers of the ball in the world, and we’re not applying pressure,” Wilkinson said. “We outnumbered them in the middle of the park, to try and keep pressure on him and deny service into the front two. I think it was a lapse of concentration, maybe. And we got punished.”
The second was nearly as nice.
“Sometimes they end up in row zed ...,” Beckham told NBC Sports Network. “Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Tonight they went in.”
Donovan converted a penalty kick, then fed Keane just 64 seconds later to make it 4-1, becoming the sixth player in MLS history with 100 regular-season assists. Keane added another with a silky touch, after Beckham played Sean Franklin up the right flank, in the second half.
“Spectacular two goals [by Beckham]. Thought Robbie and Landon were dangerous ...,” LA coach Bruce Arena said. “Giving up an early goal isn’t easy, but I thought as we got into the game in the first 15 minutes we could sense that we could create chances. We were moving the ball well, and obviously Beckham’s first goal was big and we did quite well after that.”