CARSON, Calif. – Throughout all the lows the LA Galaxy suffered from March through May, players and coaches said hard work would get them back to where they wanted to be.
The club is finally reaping rewards for staying the course. On Saturday, the Galaxy demolished Vancouver by 3-0 and picked up their third victory in a seven-day stretch.
“A great week, a great end to the week,” captain Landon Donovan said. “I think we deserved what we got tonight because we put in a lot of work in the last few weeks. It was nice to get rewarded for that.”
The Galaxy put three goals past Whitecaps ‘keeper Joe Cannon in the first half and with some better luck could have had a goal or two more. There was little if anything negative for players to say about the opening 45 minutes.
“Our passing was good, our movement was good, the energy was good, defensively we were very good,” said Donovan, who capped the scoring with a penalty-kick goal in the 41st minute. "I don’t think we gave them a sniff at the goal and we probably should have had five goals in the first half."
The Galaxy have had other matches where the play was strong in the opening half but players said nothing much compared to Saturday’s effort.
“The first half today was definitely probably the best first half of soccer that we’ve played all season,” midfielder David Beckham said. “We’re happy with that. We’ve moved forward obviously from where we were four games ago so we’re happy with these games.”
Fresh off his Euro 2012 experience, Robbie Keane re-joined the squad and gave LA a dangerous option up top. Along with Donovan, the two players tore apart the Whitecaps backline and made it a difficult evening for central defenders Jay DeMerit and Martín Bonjour.
“I felt really sharp considering that I only got off a flight on Wednesday and only trained one day with the lads, which was [Friday],” Keane said. “I felt really sharp and I look forward to a couple days off now.”
And during those days off, LA can look at some recent game tapes with a smile for a change. Alongside all the goals are two shutouts in three.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Donovan said. “If it’s 3-0 that’s fine. If it’s 4- or 5-0 that’s great too but first and foremost we want to get a shutout. Josh [Saunders] was called on only a couple of times, made a good save there at the end but we wanted to be solid again and I think that’s a big reason why we were successful last year and we want to get back to that.”
The Galaxy have made a rather remarkable turnaround not only on the field but in the table. A week ago, they sat in last place with just 11 points and three wins from their first 13 games. Now LA, who will visit San Jose next weekend, sit in the thick of the playoff race, on 20 points and in fifth place. A top-five finish in the Western Conference would ensure the Galaxy of a playoff spot.
But players aren’t exactly celebrating the return of the king.
“Unfortunately we’re up against it. We’re not in a position to relax and chill out now,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to keep going and a few days off now to rest and then a big game against a really hot team.”