Robbie Keane led the L.A. Galaxy to a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night. (Facebook)
Days removed from their biggest comeback of the season against the Colorado Rapids, the fourth-place Los Angeles Galaxy returned home, looking to continue their fine form at the StubHub Center against the fifth-place Vancouver Whitecaps.
Consistently fluid passing, a workmanlike effort on defense and even a few lucky breaks on offense all played a key role in a dominating 2-0 win for the Galaxy.
“I think we had a very good collective effort tonight,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “Players worked on both sides of the ball. It was a very good performance. Our backline played well, but the six players in front of them did a really good job as well.”
Landon Donovan connected on a menacing half-volley from Robbie Keane at the fourth minute to give the Galaxy an early lead. Keane looked like he had every intention of putting the ball on goal, but nevertheless, Donovan managed to get the ball behind the net on a sliding toe-poke.
“We put a lot of emphasis this week on starting the right way, and not conceding early on,” Donovan said. “Scoring that early is an added benefit, but we just wanted to make sure that we started well and played well. I thought we did that for the most part. And then getting the second goal was also very important, and I thought from that point on we were very good.”
Taking a lead was not something the Galaxy had become accustomed to as of late, with Los Angeles’ opponents opening up the score in their previous four games coming into tonight (2-1-1 record for the Galaxy).
Marcelo Sarvas made the most out of a fortuitous situation inside the six-yard box and put the Galaxy up 2-0 at the 32nd minute. Sarvas found himself in front of the net, unmarked, after gaining possession following an embarrassing swing-and-miss by Keane. Sarvas had a moderately uncomfortable angle from the left side of the box, but still managed to power the ball between the legs of Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted.
“Keane tried to shoot towards goal, but the ball came to me,” said Sarvas. “I am not used to having the ball in that position, but I was blessed to score today and help the team.”
The Whitecaps struggled with pressure from the Galaxy’s attacking players and lost several balls that led to key opportunities for Los Angeles.
The Vancouver squad came into the second half revamped but failed to pose any major threat early on. Kekuta Manneh had the best Whitecaps opportunity up to that moment at the 54th minute, but his strong left-footed effort was directed straight into the hands of Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Baggio Husidic would have made it 3-0 for the Galaxy on hammering a header off a corner kick had Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey not made a spectacular save at the goal line.
A scary moment happened at the 64th minute, when Manneh and Juninho of the Galaxy collided and butted heads. Both players immediately hit the floor in pain, but returned to action after being examined for a concussion by their respective medical staffs.
Donovan missed a gem of a goal at the 67th minute, just missing upper-90 on a curling blast that left Ousted standing and hoping the ball went out of bounds. The more the second half progressed, the bigger the role Ousted played in keeping the score at a respectable number. His most impressive save of the night came at the 76th minute, when he snagged a well-placed blast from Keane from outside the box.
Penedo had a heroic one-arm save that was just as impressive a few minutes later on a well-placed effort from Darren Mattocks
Johnny Leveron was shown a straight red at the 90th minute for a reckless, studs-up tackle on Galaxy forward Alan Gordon.
The win gave the Galaxy 40 points, and left them in fourth place in the Western Conference –only two points behind the first-place Seattle Sounders.
Donovan acknowledged at the postgame press conference that the Supporter’s Shield is now a very viable possibility for the Galaxy.
“It’s taken a long time, but we have a real chance now [to win the Supporter’s Shield],” he said. “We play Dallas twice more, we play Seattle twice more, so really, it’s in our hands. Obviously a big game with big implications on Wednesday, because even if we don’t finish top of the West, if we get through the West, all of these games are important. So [it’s a] very important game Wednesday, and we have to make sure we’re ready.”