The LA Galaxy have dealt with little hiccups all season: the defensive miscues that cost them early MLS points and their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series, Landon Donovan's late arrival and hit-and-miss retrieval of form, Robbie Keane's ailing ankles and the defensive flops that cost them in losses to Houston and Vancouver.
They righted things once before, with a splendid Donovan-led performance to beat Sporting Kansas City last month, followed by the young guns' superb play in a win at Real Salt Lake. They did so again in the last half-hour Wednesday night against Philadelphia, when Keane and Donovan hooked up, took over and throttled the Union.
Donovan declared he felt like his old self, much as he did after the game against SKC, and Keane noted that LA performed the same way as when the past two MLS Cups.
So has a corner been turned? Not so fast. As the Galaxy prepare for Sunday's match with the New York Red Bulls (1 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) the finale of a three-game road swing, they're looking for more.
“Landon's due to get in a streak and start playing well, and, obviously, Robbie makes us a better team team, there's no question about that ...” head coach Bruce Arena said. “But we're not naïve enough to believe that we've arrived, and we've got a lot of work to do.”
Still on the agenda: Donovan again reaching his full potential, better consistency on the attack, and elimination of the defensive lapses that have gifted opponents goals — such as Philly's first-half equalizer — or at the least made things easy for foes.
“There are a lot of little things we've got to still get right. We'll keep working on it ...” Arena said. “We've got to be better. We know that. The veterans have got to get a hold of the team in [difficult] situations and get a little bit better on the field.”
Todd Dunivant's return helps — the Galaxy can now use their first-choice backline of Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Sean Franklin — and the connection between Keane and Donovan lifts everyone else's games when the two stars are in sync.
They've been outstanding together twice, in the win over Kansas City and in the second half Wednesday, but they've spent little time on the field at the same time because of Donovan's late arrival this season and Keane's injury concerns. The more they play together, whether Donovan is up front or in midfield, the better the Galaxy will be.
“It's going to take awhile,” Arena predicted. “Hopefully, we're a good team in the second half of the season, but we've got to get better.”