Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza, right, battles Timbers defender Jeremy… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)
In its eighth Major League Soccer game of 2010, the Galaxy banged four goals past the Seattle Sounders in a 4-0 rout that left the team with a 7-0-1 record and 15 goals scored, almost two per game.
In its eighth MLS game of 2011, on Saturday night against the Portland Timbers at Home Depot Center in Carson, the same sort of output was not expected from the Galaxy.
That's because goals have been more difficult to come by this year. One-fifth of the way into its season, the Galaxy was 3-1-3, and had scored only seven goals in seven games.
Against the Timbers, however, there was a change of fortunes, especially after Chad Barrett and Landon Donovan had each scored within the first eight minutes.
A rout was possible, and although it never really materialized, the eventual 3-0 victory was decisive enough. Still, the Galaxy did not take full advantage of the chance to pad its offensive statistics against an expansion team.
So this is how it stands among the Galaxy's seven forwards in 2011: Barrett and Donovan each have a couple of goals, while Juan Pablo Angel and Mike Magee have each found the back of the net once. Bryan Jordan has not scored. Adam Cristman, who is out injured, and Jack McBean have yet to play a game.
According to Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, the cause of the goal shortage is clear.
"We have a lot of new players in the attack ? so it takes a little bit of time," Arena said. "The lack of playing time they've had together doesn't make them yet a cohesive group on the field."
Until Saturday, Portland Coach John Spencer did not appear to have that problem.
The expansion Timbers came into the match after scoring seven goals in their previous two games, a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire and a 3-2 win over FC Dallas.
Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza and Costa Rican defender Rodney Wallace each scored twice in those games. Striker Kenny Cooper and midfielder Jack Jewsbury also had two goals apiece coming into Saturday's match.
Spencer, the former Scottish international who won back-to-back MLS titles as assistant coach of the Houston Dynamo, said the Timbers did not intend to sit back and allow the Galaxy to dictate the game.
"Our mentality is that we're going to go to [Carson] and try to win the game," he said in an interview on the Timbers' website. "We're not going to go there and flood the midfield. We're not going to go there and be scared to attack, because we've got nothing to be scared of.
"You've got to have that confidence and drive in yourself that wherever we play it doesn't matter, home or away, big crowd, small crowd, we've got people who will support us and we need to be super-confident."
Portland's players apparently were not listening, because the Timbers created few true scoring chances.
But Arena was more interested in Portland's suspect defense.
"We need to attack them with some quality play and, if we can, we're going to create some chances," he said.
Those chances came early and the Galaxy took full advantage, wrapping up the game almost before it had begun. Barrett scored the first goal only 3:32 into the game on a fine half-volley, and Donovan scored the first of his two goals on a penalty kick at the 7:30 mark after he had been fouled by Wallace.
Donovan's second goal of the night came in the 66th minute when he headed home a cross from Angel.