After a difficult midweek loss, LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said his team’s struggles weren’t due to poor form across the board, rather mistakes in crucial situations that cost the team dearly.
His players apparently took that message to heart.
LA cleaned up their game on Sunday to keep Chicago off the scoreboard and pick up a convincing 2-0 victory at Toyota Park.
“To come out and grind this win away was great,” Galaxy ‘keeper Josh Saunders said. “We took the positives from those negatives and turned them into a win here.”
The win snapped a two-match losing streak and moved the Galaxy back to fifth place in the Western Conference on 23 points. LA have collected 12 points from their last six games..
The six points that got away came in games in which the Galaxy held a two-goal lead (on June 30 at San Jose) as well as a 1-1 draw in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time (on Wednesday against Philadelphia).
HIGHLIGHTS: Keane sinks punchless Fire
If the Galaxy were shaken from those results, it hardly showed.
“We had three good games in a row and then we had a couple of games where we played well but ended up losing,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who played the final 25 minutes and set up Robbie Keane for his second goal.
“That was really frustrating and disappointing but our mentality was great coming here. A lot of teams might have caved and said ‘You know what, we’re going to try and get a point here’ but we had a good mentality.”
The Galaxy settled into the match rather quickly. Despite yielding the bulk of the possession in the early going, the LA drew first blood, earning a penalty kick after referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot when Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba handled a ball at the edge of the penalty area.
Celebrating his 32nd birthday, Keane easily buried the penalty kick, giving the Galaxy held a 1-0 lead after 24 minutes.
He put the game away after taking a feed from Donovan and burying a shot from close range in the 75th minute. The goals were Keane’s fifth and sixth of the season and just his third tallies since April.
“Of course we want to score as many goals as we can, but the important thing is the team and getting points on the board and that was the case,” Keane said. “It was important that the team won, it’s not about one individual. It’s about the whole team. I’m happy enough for the team.”
Up 2-0, the lone question remaining seemed to be whether the Galaxy would get their first road shutout of the year. In the end, Chicago sputtered over the final quarter hour, and LA held firm and did just that, putting an exclamation mark on the victory.
“We were great defensively,” Donovan said. “Chicago has been playing really well. They’re very dangerous, [have] a lot of very dangerous players and they didn’t have many good opportunities. I thought our defending as a whole was great, our individual defending was great and our mentality was good. It was a very good shutout.”