There is no secret formula to the LA Galaxy's resurgence since the MLS season restarted in August. Just the precious commodity of time, combined with an attitude adjustment and perhaps a realization that Argentine winger Cristian Pavon will carry the team as far as they let him.
That's amounted to a four-match winning streak since Phase 1 of the revised MLS season began, including two El Trafico victories over rivals LAFC. In the more recent 3-0 derby triumph on Sunday night, Pavon contributed his sixth goal and fourth assist while continuing to be an inspiration of confidence for a Galaxy side that is flourishing while Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has been injured.
That form just might lead Pavon into Landon Donovan MLS MVP contention. Which would be fine with him.
"I think every player wants that, I think every player works for that," Pavon said through an interpreter when he was asked if he would appreciate winning the award. "You want to play well and you want to score. And you want to do what's best for your team. We still have a long season ahead, but hopefully we'll be able to get to that goal."
Perhaps Chicharito's absence since mid-July has made it easier for others to look to Pavon first for offensive leadership. And it's not as though he's doing it all on his own, with Sebastian Lletget enjoying some of the best form of his life and younger players like Julian Araujo, Ethan Zubak and Efrain Alvarez making important contributions.
After his brace Sunday, Lletget suggested it may simply be a question of playing more freely than earlier in the season.
"I just think we weren’t utilizing our creativity as much," he said of those earlier struggles. "I mean obviously it makes it easier, when you’ve got somebody like Pavon, who is so dynamic, so creative, can make something out of nothing. And we just sort of followed his lead in a lot of ways. I connect really well with him. And more than anything I think with time, as a team, we’re learning more about each other, we’re getting that chemistry."
Reintroducing Chicharito, who could return from his calf injury Saturday when the Galaxy visit the San Jose Earthquakes, is the next step. For all the success without him, the Galaxy still have a higher ceiling with Mexico's all-time leading scorer in the fold.
They also know they can't get too high right now, just as they refused to get too low after finishing last in their group at the MLS is Back Tournament in July.
"It’s a mental battle, because you can’t get carried away with the confidence," Lletget said. "You have to sort of withhold that. You have to like really harness that and be like, just don’t get ahead of yourself. And I think we all reminded each other about that."