Galaxy extend Toronto's winless skid to 10 games
L.A. also clinches MLS playoff spot
Toronto FC didn't have to worry about David Beckham firing balls all over the field Saturday night. What they endured was worse.
Juninho, taking charge of Los Angeles' midfield attack in Beckham's injury absence, scored two spectacular first-half goals while Robbie Keane added two more as the Los Angeles Galaxy beat Toronto 4-2.
Toronto (5-18-8) ended the Galaxy's five-game shutout streak in all competitions on a Terry Dunfield header late in the first half, and they closed within a goal near the finish through Luis Silva.
But the scoreline flattered them despite a spirited performance after falling behind by three goals after 36 minutes.
The Galaxy outshot Toronto 27-5, tying a 14-year-old club record for shots while posting its first victory over the Reds since 2009, after five ties and a loss in last March's CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final decider.
"We came in (at halftime) at 3-1, and it's still only a two-goal game, which is always a difficult lead, two goals," said TFC head coach Paul Mariner. "If they take their foot off the gas and we get on the front foot — which we did, we changed a little bit, put their back four under a little bit of pressure — we'll get to 3-2, whether you think we're worth it or not. But the fact of the matter is we got back to 3-2. ...
"It was very important (to come back). You show that you have some fight left in you. There's always a lot of fight left in us."
The Galaxy (15-11-4), which clinched a Major League Soccer playoff spot and vaulted past Seattle into second place in the Western Conference, was in charge from the start and went ahead on Juninho's free kick from just outside the box in the 11th minute.
His next strike, a 32-yard blast into the upper-left corner, was a sensation, and Keane made it 3-0 three minutes later following passes from Landon Donovan and Mike Magee.
That should have been it, but Toronto got one back three minutes after that — Dunfield nodded a Jeremy Hall throw-in that was flicked on by Silva — and they surged forward in the second half despite re-arranging their lineup after centre back Richard Eckersley departed at halftime with concussion-like symptoms.
Eckersley was hit in the head by Magee during a midfield aerial challenge in the 14th minute and played another 30 minutes, but was substituted because he was having vision problems, Mariner said.
"I lose one of my best players at halftime, and you've got to regroup and put young players in positions they're not particularly familiar with," said Mariner, who moved Aaron Maund from midfield onto the backline and switched from a 4-2-3-1 alignment to a two-forward system.
"My hats off to the lads, coming back 3-2 to the Galaxy is good, but at the end of the day we've lost."
Toronto pulled within a goal in the 86th minute, when Silva took a pass from fellow Eric Avila, turned and took a shot that deflected off Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and looped over goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
Keane's finale, deep into stoppage, ended all doubt.
"Tonight in my view was not a complete performance," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. "We were a little bit sloppy, but Toronto played real hard, came after us for 90 minutes. ... I think we're a little sharper today, it's a game we win going away, but we weren't. I think you have to attribute a lot of that to Toronto. Their effort on the night was fabulous."