For the first half hour of Saturday’s LA Galaxy match against Vancouver, the host Whitecaps had a strong showing.
It just took that long for the Galaxy to settle in.
Once the they got going, Vancouver were powerless to stop them. The Galaxy scored four second-half goals — including two from Landon Donovan — and routed the Whitecaps 4-0 at Empire Field on Saturday.
“I thought our team played very well for 90 minutes,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "The first half, both teams created chances, but we took control around the 30-minute mark and had a very good second half. Landon’s goal broke Vancouver’s backs. It was a very good day for the Galaxy.”
LA ran their unbeaten streak to 14 matches on the strength of Saturday’s rout. Donovan scored the club’s first two goals, including a penalty kick that gave him a total of 11 on the season. Also, Sean Franklin scored his second goal of the season while Adam Cristman knocked in his first league goal for the Galaxy.
Vancouver, though, had their chances — the closest opportunity possibly being Shea Salinas’ shot off the post in the second half. But the Galaxy’s quality won out.
“The game was pretty even until the first goal,” Donovan said. “Vancouver did a good job of attacking, but I think we also did a good job of attacking. The two teams clearly wanted to win the game. Our fault in the first half was not being clinical in front of the goal but once we were in the second half, we were able to pull away.”
Arena gave credit to the one thing the team has stressed perhaps more than anything else this season.
“I thought our ball movement was better,” Arena said. “Defensively we were solid, but the ball movement was the key to the game. We passed better and we got out of pressure better.”
Perhaps it was the environment at Empire Field but the Galaxy were a bit on their heels in the opening quarter hour.
“The first half we were adjusting to the turf and Vancouver came out flying,” Franklin said. “The first 15 minutes they were really coming at us, but we started to get better towards the end of the first half.”
With David Beckham out due to suspension and the forwards struggling, Donovan took it upon himself to will the team to victory. The only issue was that it took 45 minutes for him to get going.
“I thought Landon was quiet in the first half; in the second half I thought he was real loud,” Arena said. “His first was goal terrific; good ball by Franklin and unfortunately [Michael] Boxall lost his feet.”
Later, Vancouver gifted the Galaxy a penalty kick when Jordan Harvey inexplicably reached up and batted at a cross that did not appear to be very dangerous.
“We were a little fortunate with the penalty, but we knew if we were smart and we passed the ball we were going to get a number of chances and it was just about making sure we finished them,” Donovan said.
Donovan then added an assist when he slipped a perfectly placed ball to Franklin across the goalmouth, and Franklin easily knocked it in. Cristman got on the scoreboard in stoppage time with a header over Joe Cannon’s head.
That the Galaxy won by four goals is perhaps not indicative what Vancouver are like as a franchise.
“These games can turn very quickly and I don’t think they should only have two wins this season,” Arena said. “They’ve played pretty well at times this year and it’s been unfortunate for them. They have a good nucleus and can continue on and have a good 2011 campaign. They have a bright future in MLS.”