For Landon Donovan, his return to Major League Soccer and his home state of California on Saturday night couldn't have been any sweeter. A Hollywood movie producer couldn't have written a better script, as Donovan contributed two goals and an assist in route to the Los Angeles Galaxy's first win of the season, a 3-1 triumph against Real Salt Lake.
The home opener at The Home Depot Center was played in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 fans, and Donovan was pleasantly surprised by the receptions he got from the Galaxy faithful. A long time member of the Galaxy's archrival, the San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan was a little nervous before the game.
"I wasn't sure how the fans would take it," said Donovan. "It was real nice. The best way to get people on your side is to win and score goals."
Score goals he did, opening his Galaxy account after just nine minutes, his second strike of the game proving to be the game winner. Donovan would add an assist in the latter stages of the game, as veteran Galaxy winger Cobi Jones would put the game out of reach for the visitors.
For Jones, it was his goal in nearly two seasons, since June 14, 2003.
"It's the first time I've felt completely healthy in about a year, so it's nice they could coincide," said Jones. "We felt we had a lot of opportunities to attack down the right side. I think in the second half things really started to open up."
The final score really wasn't indicative of how much the home side dominated the game. In reality, there could have been a few more goals for the Galaxy, as Pete Vagenas hit the crossbar, and RSL goalkeeper D.J. Countess was forced to make several point-blank saves against the relentless Galaxy attack.
Somewhat lost in the goalfest for L.A. was the play of the defense. After getting embarrassed a week ago against the Crew, the back four looked much more organized. The most notable change head coach Steve Sampson made in his defense was the addition of rookie Ugo Ihemelu into the staring lineup.
"Ugo came on and did a wonderful job for us tonight," said the Galaxy manager. "He showed he can play in this league."
Unfortunately for the Galaxy, they will not be able to build on this momentum next week as they have a bye week. The good news though is the Galaxy finally got their season on the right track with a convincing win. According to Donovan, that's just another day at the office in Carson.
"Playing at home you have to win," he said. "Especially after the beating we took last week."
By the time the Galaxy next take the field, it will be in one of the most anticipated games of the season, as they take on HDC-mates Chivas USA in the first of the four clasicos between the two clubs on April 23.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.