Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Galaxy made a bright start in their quest to defend their MLS Cup title, cruising to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire at the StubHub Center on Friday.
The reigning champions controlled the majority of the match but were made to wait until the 65th minute for a breakthrough, which came courtesy of Jose Villarreal.
Reigning MLS MVP Robbie Keane ensured the win by tacking on the dagger nine minutes from time.
Los Angeles signaled its intent early on and came close to breaking the deadlock in the ninth minute when Villarreal's free kick was parried away by Sean Johnson but only as far as Dan Gargan, but the Galaxy right-back could only manage to hammer the rebound into the side netting at the near post.
Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes produced a couple gilt-edged scoring chances in the closing stages of the opening period, but Chicago managed to escape the danger and make it to halftime on equal footing.
Both sides traded blows upon the restart, but Los Angeles went in front midway through the second half when Jeff Larentowicz failed to deal with a cross from the right flank, gifting an unmarked Villarreal a sitter to finish from close range.
The Galaxy spurned a chance to double the advantage in the 79th minute when Stefan Ishizaki broke free on the right side of the box but elected to shoot instead of slipping it into the path of an unmarked Keane. Ishizaki's shot trickled just wide of the far post, keeping the Fire within touching distance.
It proved to be an inconsequential miss, though, as Keane found the back of the net two minutes later. Omar Gonzalez lumped the ball into the box to find Baggio Husidic, who nodded the delivery to the center of the penalty area. Keane was first to react, pouncing on the loose ball and uncorking a first- time effort past Johnson to put the win beyond any doubt.