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Galaxy doesn't miss Landon Donovan in 6-2 win over Tijuana

February 19, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Robbie Keane scored a goal in the Galaxy's exhibition victory, 6-2, over reserves from the Mexican League's Tijuana club Tuesday.
Robbie Keane scored a goal in the Galaxy's exhibition victory, 6-2,… (Chris Young / Associated…)

Maybe the Galaxy won't miss Landon Donovan that much after all.

It sure didn't Tuesday when, playing its first match on the Home Depot Center turf since last December's Major League Soccer Cup final, the Galaxy dominated a team of reserves from Tijuana of the Mexican League en route to a soggy 6-2 exhibition win.

The game, played before a chilly crowd of 12,000, matched the winner of the last two MLS Cups against the reigning Mexican League champions. But while the Xolos' first team was in Colombia, where it beat Bogota's Millonarios in its opening match of the Copa Libertadores, the Galaxy used seven men who played in the last MLS Cup final.

And though the Galaxy's competition figures to get much tougher when the MLS season begins in 12 days, Tuesday's tuneup gave Coach Bruce Arena a few things to build on besides the goals he got from Robbie Keane, Leonardo, Hector Jimenez and Jack McBean and the pair added by Brian Gaul.

Tuesday's game had a little bit of everything, in fact, featuring eight goals, six yellow cards and two cards in addition to some bad news postgame when Arena announced that defender Tommy Meyer strained a hamstring in training and could miss next month's MLS opener.

Arena experimented with a few lineup changes against Tijuana, starting defender Sean Franklin on a wing, playing center defender A.J. DeLaGarza at right back and using Brian Perk and Brian Rowe in goal over newly acquired veteran Carlo Cudicini.

"All we're trying to do in the preseason is get a little cover in all the positions, look at guys in different spots," Arena said. "So we're moving our players around a little bit."

Among those missing from last year's roster were Donovan, whose soccer sabbatical, the team said, will continue until late March, and David Beckham, who retired from MLS last winter and is now playing in France.

Not that it mattered much with Keane, the Galaxy's lone designated player and the man who inherited the captain's armband from Donovan, scoring at the end of a brilliant run up the middle, putting the Galaxy ahead to stay in the fourth minute.

And Keane had a chance for another in the 29th minute but his right-footed chip from inside the box was too soft, allowing Tijuana keeper Miguel Garcia to get a hand on it.

Seconds later, Gaul sent a shot off a corner kick into Garcia's midsection and five minutes after that Omar Gonzalez curled behind the defense to get his head on a Juninho free kick, only to redirect it wide at the near post.

Defender Leonardo made up for those misses in the 36th minute, following some fancy passes from Mike Magee and Marcelo Sarvas with a right-footed blast into the lower right corner of the net from about 15 yards to give the Galaxy a 2-0 halftime lead.

Gaul got his first goal in the 65th minute, with Michael Stephens heading forward a poor Tijuana clearance to the defender, who was alone near the penalty spot.

Luis Garcia Carmona got that goal back for the Xolos four minutes later, then things really heated up in the final 10 minutes of regulation with Jimenez and McBean scoring goals sandwiched around one from Tijuana's Bruno Piceno.

Gaul, the only Galaxy play to go the entire 90 minutes, closed out the scoring in stoppage time.

The Galaxy (4-1-1 in the preseason) have one exhibition left, playing Friday at UC Santa Barbara against the Colorado Rapids before opening the regular season March 3 against the Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center.

ALSO:

Landon Donovan to end sabbatical in late March

Landon Donovan has felt the weight of expectations

Absent Landon Donovan is topic of conversation around Galaxy

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