By KAYLA KNAPP
CARSON, Calif.– Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan stole the show at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, leading the LA Galaxy in their 3-1 win over Chivas USA in the second Super Clasico of the 2012 season.
The duo was crucial in each of the three goals, and realistically the Galaxy score line could—and probably should—have been much higher.
“We could have scored a number more goals tonight,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the game. “We were very good going forward, I think obviously Donovan and Keane were outstanding again, Beckham’s passing was excellent. A good team effort for the most part.”
Galaxy captain Donovan shared his coach’s sentiments.
“Candidly, we're probably leaving a few goals on the table each game,” Donovan said. “As good as we feel like this is, we know we can be better.”
Despite a dominant offensive performance, Arena and the rest of the team knows there is still work to be done on the defensive end.
“We’ve gotten better and better, Donovan said. “Still, giving up a goal to that team tonight was pretty unacceptable. And we’re not happy about that, but I think we’re getting there. We’re starting to figure out what combination of guys on the field play well together and work well, and a lot of
guys are doing a lot of dirty work to make plays so that the few of us can just focus on getting in front of the goal and scoring.”
And they certainly got in front of the goal often tonight. LA got off to a fast start, breaking open the scoring early in the match. In the 14th minute, Juninho won the ball in the midfield, passed to Beckham who slotted his pass through Chivas defense to streaking Keane. He slipped past the backline, and drilled the ball low, under Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy, to give LA a 1-0 lead.
The Galaxy saw their first real test from Chivas in the 43rd minute, when Ben Zemanski ripped a shot from outside the 18, forcing Josh Saunders to make a good save.
At the half time break, LA held only a 1-0 lead, and Chivas was still in the game, even though they lacked quality chances.
The Galaxy struck again just three minutes after the second half began. It was Keane again, but this time he was the distributer. He won the ball in the midfield and played a perfect pass through to Donovan, who beat the Chivas defense with his speed and placed it into the back of the net with ease. LA took a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute.
Chivas responded quickly with a goal of their own in the 52nd minute, when Ryan Smith assisted former LA Galaxy player Paolo Cardozo, who struck a low shot from just outside the 18. His strike went through sea of Galaxy defenders and beat Saunders, scoring his first MLS goal and giving the
Rojiblancos a glimmer of hope.
In the 53rd minute, Donovan picked up a yellow card, and will miss next Saturday’s match against FC Dallas.
With about 30 minutes remaining, Chivas suddenly started looking dangerous. Cardozo had another good look on net, but was denied by Saunders.
Donovan nearly got his second of the match in the 62nd minute when he rattled a shot off the post and the rebound came straight back out, but Kennedy was able to grab it quickly.
In the 68th minute, Omar Gonzalez came on for Hector Jimenez, making just his second appearance this season. His return from injury was sooner than expected, but it had been three games since he first saw minutes this year.
“We didn’t want to risk injury on those surfaces this past week, so that deterred his progress a little bit but we should be able to catch up hopefully in the next month,” Arena said of the delay between Gonzalez’s appearances.
While Chivas had a few bright moments, they were completely outplayed in the final 15 minutes. Donovan and Keane were combining seamlessly, and coming close to the third Galaxy goal, each hitting the post a within minutes of each other.
“I think that we combined quite well, we made it difficult for their defenders with our movement and the way that we were linking up,” Keane said of his pairing with Donovan. “Overall it was a good night for us.”
LA finally shut the door on a Chivas comeback in the 78th minute, when Beckham swung his corner kick into the box off, and Gonzalez headed the ball into the area. Gaul knocked it on frame, and after a bit of a scramble, Donovan found the loose ball and scored his second of the night. The Galaxy took a late game 3-1 lead, and didn’t look back.
In the end, it was not just being the excellent performance from the Galaxy that did Chivas in, but their own mistakes throughout the match.
“In the second half we certainly had a couple of bright spells where we were aggressive, created a goal and were pushing for a while there so we definitely had good moments but at the end of the day,
self-inflicted wounds was the story for us,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said after the match.
Chivas will have to try and bounce back from tonight’s loss against a floundering Timbers team when they travel to Portland on Saturday.
The Galaxy face Tottenham on Tuesday in a friendly as part of the World Football Challenge. They’ll look to continue their climb up the Western Conference table Saturday against FC Dallas.
Here are the match highlights: