Landon Donovan leads LA Galaxy back to their best in Philly: "His second half was spectacular"
That pretty much describes how the defending MLS Cup champs stopped an aggravating little skid Wednesday night.
The Galaxy found their game in the last 20 minutes, stretching the Philadelphia Union's defense and exploiting that space for three late goals and a 4-1 triumph at PPL Park.
Keane, back from a sprained ankle that sidelined him in four of LA's previous five games, scored a goal and assisted one by Donovan, who played a role in all four goals and would have had three assists except that the opening tally was ruled an own goal.
Keane's presence was massive for LA (5-3-2), who had played poorly in back-to-back losses to Houston and Vancouver and didn't look a whole lot better through the half or so against the Union.
The Irish striker's aggressive runs through Philly's tiring defense, with Donovan following in kind, created a good half-dozen chances in the final half-hour. And finishes by Keane in the 71st minute, Hector Jimenez in the 80th and Donovan in the 87th put the game out of reach.
“With the players we have, we know we are quite capable of doing that. Sometimes it just doesn't happen, for whatever reason,” Keane told reporters afterward. “We just needed to lift [our effort] another 10 to 15 percent [in the second half], and we did that. ... If we can play against teams the way we played, we can cause problems for everyone.”
Donovan, still searching for his best form after a four-month break, had looked tentative in the last two games, but Keane's energy sparked his best performance since last month's victory over Sporting Kansas City.
“I think aside from the plays that really made the goals, I just felt like I was more aggressive. I was running at people again,” Donovan said on the Galaxy's postgame telecast. “I felt back to my old self. It was a nice feeling.”
Head coach Bruce Arena wasn't surprised.
“My suspicion is [Donovan] is a very good player, and so it's just a matter of time where he is going to get his touch back, his confidence, and his fitness on a more consistent basis,” Arena said. “We'd like to believe that that is going to start now. ... I thought his second half was spectacular.”
Keane deserves a lot of the credit.
“I think everybody can see the difference [when Keane is on the field],” Donovan said. “It's not just the goals or the passing, but he occupies people. So when he's not on the field, it's easier for teams to key on a few of us. But when he is on the field, they have to worry about him, and that opens up a lot of space for the rest of us. And then if we're good in the attacking third, we're going to score goals.”