CARSON, Calif – It’s not every night Major League Soccer records are set, but when Landon Donovan’s at his best, it’s never an ordinary night.
Man of the Match: Landon Donovan assisted on every goal. And we’re not talking about cute little second assists or getting your name in the books when the goalscorer does all the work. Even on the fourth assist, service from a corner for Omar Gonzalez, Donovan’s influence was felt.
The four helpers tied an MLS single-game record and moved him into fourth on the all-time list with 105 (passing Jamie Moreno).
Packaged for takeaway:
- The defense that got ripped apart last week by Seattle? Gone. The Galaxy back line was back to normal on Sunday. Todd Dunivant was back on the left. Sean Franklin fell back to right back. A.J. DeLaGarza’s partnership with Omar Gonzalez was happily renewed.
- But the more important change was in the middle. With David Beckham back in England, Marcelo Sarvas moved in from the left, pairing with Juninho in the middle. That meant L.A. scrapped their tendency to vacate the midfield in their attacking phase. That also meant L.A. was better prepared for Sharlie Joseph’s debut.
- Whereas Joseph tended to be a little bit of everything throughout his New England career, his first night with Chivas USA saw him cast into a very specific role – his most natural position. Sitting deep in the middle, Joseph was the man tasked with bringing Chivas forward as well as breaking up LA’s attacks when they built through the middle.
- Despite the score, Joseph was decent. You could see how he’ll be a stabilizing force in the middle. When Oswaldo Minda starts, Joseph will have the freedom to break up play higher up the field. While there’s a concern that midfield might not generate enough chances for Juan Pablo Angel and Juan Agudelo, it will be a handful to get through.
- Sarvas, however, was the star in midfield, which is saying something considering Juninho had two goals. But Sarvas had arguably his best game since joining the Galaxy, continuously disrupting Chivas’ buildup while also serving as the main connector in midfield.
- In 90 percent of the games this league’s ever played, Sarvas would have been Man of the Match.
- The Sarvas-Juninho duo was so good that you couldn’t help but ask yourself: Why does David Beckham have to break this up? Beckham may not have the legs to play wide anymore, but you can certainly see him sitting above Sarvas and Juninho, free to create while being alleviated of most of his defensive responsibilities.
- If Landon Donovan can always play like he did tonight (not a realistic standard), the midfield and defense may not matter:
- On the first goal, Donovan ran off a wall pass to Robbie Keane, collected his rebound of a shot on Dan Kennedy, and fed his strike partner for the opener.
- On the second, Donovan chased down a ball from Mike Magee on the left, leading an LA counter that ended with a 19-yard goal from Juninho.
- Donvoan’s third assist was a beautiful far post cross for Juninho (making a run from wide right), the LA midfielder having almost the entire net to hit from inside the six.
- Donovan’s final assist was a training reel corner to Omar Gonzalez, who hammered it home from near the spot.
- The final score was slightly unfair to Chivas USA, with most of LA’s damage coming after the hour mark. After that, the game was a “track meet” (to use Danny Califf’s description), but until Galaxy’s second goal, Chivas looked like they had an equalizer in them. Todd Dunivant and A.J. DeLaGarza were each called on for 48th minute saves in front of goal, Chivas coming within inches of an equalizer.
- No matter the “fairness” of the score, LA impressed, particularly considering the need to rebound from last week’s drubbing. With one of their most impressive performances of the season, the Galaxy may be able to justify classifying the Seattle game as a one off (provided they don’t revert to the same tactics).
- Chivas USA will have to stew on this one for a while. They had a chance to move within four of LA. Instead, they’re 10 back, and despite adding Juan Agedulo, Danny Califf, and Shalrie Joseph (among others) throughout the season, Chivas’s playoff dreams may be over.