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Galaxy earns much-needed victory

L.A. gets goals from Villarreal and Zardes to earn three points and move into third place in the West.

July 20, 2013|By Jim Peltz and Andrew Gastelum

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The deck appeared stacked against the Galaxy from the moment the U.S. and Canadian national anthems were played before Saturday night's game.

Not only was the Galaxy without veteran forwards Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, the team faced the red-hot Vancouver Whitecaps FC, whose Brazilian forward Camilo is the top scorer in Major League Soccer.

But even though Camilo scored his 13th goal of the season early in the game, the Galaxy's Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes also scored to give the Galaxy a 2-1 win in front of 20,093 at StubHub Center.

For the Galaxy (10-8-3), it was a badly needed victory in the tight MLS Western Conference, especially after the club lost its previous game in second-half stoppage time.

The Galaxy climbed to third place with 33 points, four points behind conference leader Real Salt Lake. Vancouver (9-6-5), which had won five of its six previous games, is tied for fourth place with FC Dallas with 32 points.

"We hung in there," said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena. "I thought the team played pretty solid throughout the night. It was an important win, an important three points."

Camilo showed why he's the league's top scorer in the 19th minute when he scored his 10th goal in his last eight games.

The Galaxy tied the game in the 29th minute on a controversial play. At first it appeared Villarreal tapped in a goal with his right leg from a header by Zardes, who was behind Villarreal. The referee initially called Villarreal offside and negated the score.

But after the referees conferred, they ruled that Zardes never touched the ball and Villarreal was not offside. So Villarreal was awarded the goal.

Zardes scored what would be the game-winner in the 57th minute. The rookie ran the ball to the end line, cut back and fired into the net past Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton. It was Zardes' third goal of the year.

The Galaxy remained without Donovan because he's playing with the U.S. national team in the Gold Cup games, and Keane had an injured left hip.

The Galaxy's Robbie Rogers also was out with a sore right hamstring.

But former Galaxy star David Beckham was in attendance, as was the Lakers' Steve Nash, a part owner of the Whitecaps.

For Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, meanwhile, the game was part of a whirlwind schedule for the 24-year-old center back, who next is also set to join the U.S. national team for the Gold Cup elimination rounds.

The 2011 MLS defender of the year, Gonzalez won't play Sunday when the U.S. takes on El Salvador in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. But he'd probably start if the U.S. advances to Wednesday's semifinals in Dallas.

Gonzalez, who has never played in the Gold Cup, is looking to bolster his position with the national team less than a year removed from the 2014 World Cup.

andrew.gastelum@latimes.com

twitter.com/andrewgastelum

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