The Los Angeles Galaxy entered Sunday’s matinee game against co-tenants Chivas USA winless in their two MLS games this season, and fresh off a discouraging CONCACAF Champions League exit.
Chivas USA, who have won only four of 28 matches against their in-town rivals, were just what the Galaxy needed to overcome their poor form.
Goals from Robbie Keane, Stefan Ishizaki, and Baggio Husidic carried the Galaxy to an easy 3-0 win against the Goats.
After the game, Landon Donovan talked about the Galaxy finding their offensive form for the first time this season.
“Aside from the first half against Tijuana away, we’ve actually played well most of the year,” he said. “Today we rewarded ourselves; we really threatened them from the beginning.”
Fortunately the goals came, which doesn’t happen sometimes like we saw against Salt Lake and it makes things difficult.”
Lineup Changes: Brian Perk was the goalkeeper in place of Jaime Penedo, and Dan Gargan started in place of an injured A.J. De La Garza. Husidic and Ishizaki broke into the starting lineup for the first time this season after coming off the bench in the first few meetings of the year.
Additionally, defender James Riley, who had started all the team’s matches in MLS competition, will be out up to six months with a meniscus tear.
Because of the change in personnel, Coach Bruce Arena opted for a different formation more conducive to the strengths of this squad, but stopped short of crediting his tactical change for the result.
“Formations are what they are,” Arena said. “It’s 11 players out on the field. It so happens that it accommodates the players that we have out there a little bit better.”
How It Happened: Steamrolled. It’s not often you could summarize a game in one word, but the Galaxy steamrolled Chivas USA and the stats reflected that.
The Galaxy outshot Chivas 14-3 (9-1 on target) and Perk made only one save the entire game.
The Chivas backline was outmatched and outclassed early on, as Ishizaki, Keane, and Donovan wreaked havoc throughout the game.
They were able to outpace Chivas defenders on a consistent basis, even though Donovan was four days removed from U.S. National Team duty against Mexico.
Chivas USA Coach Wilmer Cabrera didn’t pull any punches when describing his team’s performance today.
“Today, since I’ve been here, today we played the worst game,” said Cabrera. “As a team, individually and collectively, we didn’t play well from the beginning.”
The Chivas attack was no better than their defense. They lacked the creativity to conjure up any semblance of offense, especially in the first half.
Even when they were fortunate enough to find themselves on a fast break opportunity, they could never get the better of the Galaxy backline.
Omar Gonzalez was back to being the excellent defensive anchor for the Galaxy after a shaky performance midweek against Mexico, where he made costly gaffes in the second half that cost the U.S. team the win.
The first goal at the 37th minute was a product of the Galaxy’s insistence throughout the first half.
After misfiring on opportunities early on, Keane took advantage when Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy misread the depth of a headed pass from the right side of the box by Donovan.
Kennedy was able to get a glove on it, but never established possession, and an oncoming Keane took advantage of the bobbled ball and put it in from two yards out.
“I just ran in and I thought that Dan was going to smash me,” said Keane about the play that led to the opening goal. “I don’t know whether it hit my arm or my side…I knew that it hit off me and I anticipated that the goalkeeper was going to come out. I just jumped up to get my body in the way and lucky enough, it hit of me.”
Donovan, who had several of the team’s missed opportunities in the first half, was unwilling to blame luck for his misses. “I don’t feel unlucky,” he said. “I can do better with those chances, but it was a little sticky today and the ball caught up a few times. I’m happy with how I played, I thought I played well. Goals will come, I’m happy to win games.”
Five minutes later, Ishizaki received a through pass from Juninho on the left side of the 18-yard box and made the score 2-0.
Ishizaki dribbled into the box and seemed to have run out of room. But just two yards away from the endline with seemingly no angle to shoot, Ishizaki chipped a sliding Kennedy, who could only see the ball float in on the netted side of his left post.
Arena praised Ishizaki, but feels the first-year MLS player has yet to reach the potential the Galaxy saw in him when they signed him Swedish side IF Elfsborg.
“In time he is going to give us good passing,” said Arena. “He is capable of scoring goals like he demonstrated today, but he needs a little time, he is still making the adjustment in to the league.”
“Today is a difficult day for a player that has played in Europe his whole life, a lot in Scandinavia and all of a sudden he is on a field that is about 80 degrees, it’s sticky, all of that.
He had a solid game, obviously a good goal. I think he needs to deal with the speed and the pressure on the ball a little bit better than he did today.”
Player of the Game: Keane and Ishizaki each had a goal and an assist, but the Irishman was the driving force who had a role in virtually every scoring opportunity for the Galaxy, and thus, deserves the nod over Ishizaki.
What’s Next?: The Galaxy host the third place Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday, April 12 at the StubHub Center. The game will be televised on Time Warner Sports.