The Los Angeles Galaxy made a strong statement that they're the team to beat in the Western Conference this season, scoring a pair of first-half goals on their way to a 2-0 victory against FC Dallas on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center.
Landon Donovan gave the Galaxy an early lead, then Peter Vagenas doubled it just before the break as the Galaxy sent FC Dallas crashing to their first loss of the season and pulled themselves to within a point of the Hoops atop the West, though the Galaxy have now defeated three conference opponents in as many matches.
FC Dallas striker Carlos Ruiz was the recipient of a loud roar prior to the start of the match, but that's about as much noise as the former Galaxy man could muster in the first half.
Los Angeles dominated long stretches of the first half, getting things starting almost immediately following the opening whistle. Within the first 2 minutes of the game, Galaxy front man Landon Donovan fired two shots at Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick.
The Dallas net minder easily handled the first effort, but the second shot proved to be more dangerous. After outfighting Clarence Goodson for a loose ball in the penalty area, Donovan fired from a sharp angle, beating Garlick. His shot fell to the wrong side of the post however, finding the side netting.
Donovan again victimized Goodson in the 9th minute, this time for a goal. A long ball played over the top of the Dallas defense by Cobi Jones fell to the foot of Donovan, who held off Goodson, and tucked a neat shot into the lower corner of the net.
Dallas tried to answer quickly, and generated their most dangerous attack in the first half just minutes after Donovan's goal. Ruiz brought down a ball inside the Galaxy penalty area, then sent a looping cross towards the back post. Ronnie O'Brien ended up on the end of the cross but could only manage to get a weak shot at goal.
Vagenas doubled the Galaxy lead in the 39th minute off of a well-designed free kick. Kirovski, who drew the initial foul, played a cross to big Jamaican defender Tyrone Marshall, who headed the ball back into the goalmouth. Vagenas found himself all alone from eight yards out and hit for his second goal in as many games.
Just like a week ago against Chivas USA, the visitors came out the aggressors against the Galaxy to start the second half. Ruiz would again be in the mix, sending a low ball along the ground to a wide-open Bobby Rhine, but his first-time effort went well over the bar. Then in the 54th minute a glancing header by Carey Talley skipped just wide of Hartman's goal.
Sensing a letdown, the Galaxy were soon to counter, trying to steal the early second half momentum back. In the 55th minute Donovan thought he had his second goal, but a Jovan Kirovski foul inside the penalty area caused the goal to be disallowed.
The Galaxy created a number of chances but couldn't extend the lead, and the lack of finishing almost came back to bite L.A. in the 64th minute. Richard Mulrooney hit a well-struck ball towards the top right corner of Hartman's goal that clearly had Hartman beat, but the shot didn't bend enough and flew just wide of the net.
Over the final half hour, each side had their share of good looks at the opposing goal, but failed to trouble either goalkeeper. FC Dallas substitute Arturo Alvarez came closest with a 20-yard screamer in the waning moments, but it missed the back post by a foot.
The Galaxy will close their four-game homestand next Sunday against the Colorado Rapids (8 p.m. PT), in a rematch of last year's first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, while FC Dallas stay on the road, heading to face the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium (7 p.m. CT).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
FC Dallas (3-1-1) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (3-1-0)
April 30, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
LA -- Landon Donovan 3 (Cobi Jones 2, Chris Albright 2) 9
LA -- Peter Vagenas 2 (Tyrone Marshall 1, Jovan Kirovski 2) 39
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr (Arturo Alvarez 83), Richard Mulrooney, Simo Valakari (Roberto Mina 76), Carey Talley (Oscar Pareja 59), Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz, Ronnie O'Brien.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Steve Jolley.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Carlos Ruiz 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Carlos Ruiz 2); FOULS: 17 (Clarence Goodson 3, Simo Valakari 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Carlos Ruiz 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Richard Mulrooney 2, Greg Vanney 2); SAVES: 1 (Scott Garlick 1)
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright (Michael Umana 84), Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Cobi Jones (Ned Grabavoy 89), Guillermo Ramirez, Landon Donovan (Ednaldo da Conceicao 87), Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Paul Broome, Pablo Chinchilla, Mubarike Chisoni, Steve Cronin, Herculez Gomez, Guillermo Gonzalez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Landon Donovan 3, Guillermo Ramirez 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Landon Donovan 2); FOULS: 19 (Tyrone Marshall 5, Paulo Nagamura 5); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Landon Donovan 2); SAVES: 4 (Kevin Hartman 4)
DAL -- Greg Vanney (caution; Reckless Foul) 37
LA -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; Pushing, Holding) 48
LA -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Persistent Infringement) 68
DAL -- Clarence Goodson (caution; Game Disrepute) 79
LA -- Landon Donovan (caution; Game Disrepute) 79
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Fabio Tovar
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:50
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.