CARSON, Calif. – Marcelo Sarvas' first Major League Soccer assist was a real beauty. He played a sweet give-and-go with Sean Franklin on the right wing, then fed a simple ball to Landon Donovan.
Of course it was Donovan's final ball, most superb, that Robbie Keane finished.
It was the first big blow for the LA Galaxy in a 2-0 victory Friday night over visiting Colorado, and Sarvas was, of course, quite pleased. But he certainly wasn't expecting credit.
“It's the only place in the world,” noted the Brazilian midfielder, “where you make a second pass and it's an assist.”
While that’s not quite true – Opta tracks “second assists” throughout the world – Sarvas will take it. And he picked up a primary helper in the second half, on that long ball behind the Rapids backline for Christian Wilhelmsson, then made a wonderful sliding stop to deny Conor Casey an open net near the end – “An unbelievable play,” captain Landon Donovan called it – and ensure LA's third successive MLS shutout.
Add all of that to the precise, often gritty work he provided in the middle of midfield, this time in place of the injured David Beckham, and Sarvas' man-of-the-match performance was a big difference in the Galaxy's 11th victory in their last 16 MLS matches.
It's what LA have come to expect.
“Marcelo was excellent tonight,” head coach Bruce Arena said in his most generous remarks during the postgame Q&A session. “Again, we see more of the same with him and Juninho. Very good partnership in the midfield. They've been outstanding on both sides of the ball. Good with their passing, good at winning balls. Just invaluable members of our team. They've been outstanding.”
Donovan echoed Arena.
“[Sarvas] was fantastic,” he said. “[He and Juninho] really played well in the middle. Marcelo a couple of months ago got a chance to get into the team, and he hasn't relinquished his spot. He's made it difficult to bring him out of the lineup, and our record with him in there is really good.”
Sarvas has started all but three games and played in all but one – MLS, CONCACAF Champions League and friendlies – since the league's mini break at the start of June, splitting time in the middle and on the left flank. LA are 13-3-2 in competitive play since then.
He's been an able partner with Beckham but even more so with Juninho, his countryman and closest friend on the team.
“We understand each other very good,” Sarvas said. “We speak the same language, same kind of football, and so it's good to keep doing the things when David is not here.”
Sarvas' attacking acumen was apparent in preseason. That he's turned out to be such a valuable two-way midfielder took time, but he never lost confidence.
“Every player needs some time for adaptation,” he said in late July. “Some players it goes in one week, some take two months. I think my time is coming. I’m doing my things, doing my best. Good things are coming.”
Good things are here.