CHESTER, Pa. – One day after saying he needed to start playing better to get back into the US national team picture, Landon Donovan did just that.
Led by a goal and two assists from Donovan, the LA Galaxy scored three times in the second half en route to a 4-1 thrashing of the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at PPL Park.
Playing in his 200th game in a Galaxy uniform, Donovan set up the game-winning goal in the 71st minute with a sharp pass to Robbie Keane, whose cool finish broke a 1-1 deadlock and prompted the Irishman to take a bow in front of the Sons of Ben cheering section.
It was the first-ever game at PPL Park for Keane, who had missed the last three contests with a sprained ankle. Keane added an assist in the 86th minute to Donovan, who made a crafty move around Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath before scoring on an open net to tie a ribbon around the rout.
Six minutes before that, Hector Jimenez put the Galaxy (5-3-1) up 3-1 on another Donovan pass on the ground that got behind the beleaguered Union backline, which was playing without center back Jeff Parke (hamstring) for the second straight game.
The Galaxy win, which snapped a two-game losing streak, spoiled the strong starting debut of Designated Player Kléberson and the second goal of the season for Amobi Okugo.
The Union, who dropped to 4-4-3, saw the game get off to an inauspicious start.
In the third minute, after a turnover by left back Raymon Gaddis, Donovan launched a corner kick into the box that MacMath badly bungled. While battling for position, the ball went off the side of MacMath’s face, off the crossbar and into the net for an own goal that shocked the home crowd and put the visitors up 1-0.
The Union quickly began to turn the tide, however, with Kléberson leading the charge.
Making his first start since arriving on loan from Bahia on March 25, Kléberson had a header saved by Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini in the eighth minute. And the Brazilian made some savvy long passes and smart touches from his central midfield position to help Philly control the midfield for large chunks of the game.
The Union broke through in the 23rd minute when Sheanon Williams found the head of a streaking Okugo on his patented long-throw in. It was the third assist of the year on a throw-in for Williams, who was back on the field after serving a one-game suspension during Philly’s 1-0 win over Chicago this past Saturday.
The Galaxy nearly took the lead right before the halftime whistle but MacMath made a big save on an Omar Gonzalez header, and then a rebound goal was waved off because Keane was offside.
MacMath made another huge save in the 59th minute when he thwarted a Donovan breakaway to preserve the 1-1 tie. But after that, it was all Donovan and the Galaxy.
The Galaxy continue their East Coast trip Sunday against New York at Red Bull Arena. The Union play their second straight home game, and third game in eight days, Saturday vs. the Chicago Fire.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Robbie Keane||The Irishman immediately added movement and menace on his return to LA's lineup, scoring one goal and setting up another.|
|2||Landon Donovan||Notched two assists plus a late goal of his own -- the Galaxy's veteran star is clearly approaching his devastating best.|
|3||Danny Cruz||Philly's hard-running winger created many chances for himself and his teammates along the right flank.|