Three Points: Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane lead the LA Galaxy past Cartaginés in CONCACAF Champions League play

Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano analyzes LA’s 2-0 Champions League victory over Cartaginés

landon donovan and jose villarreal, 8/20/13

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CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s 2-0 victory over C.S. Cartaginés in CONCACAF Champions League play.

INCLUSION OF DONOVAN BREAKS THE CARTAGINES DEFENSE

Throughout the night, the LA Galaxy were struggling to break the Cartaginés defense, but the inclusion of Landon Donovan in the 61st minute changed all of that as he linked up with Robbie Keane on both of LA’s goals in their 2-0 victory.

The industrious Cartaginés defense stymied LA early as they were able to repeatedly out work the home side in the Galaxy’s final third, preventing them from enjoying any true chances. However, all this changed once Donovan entered the match for Jose Villarreal just a minute past the hour mark. It took all of five minutes for the pair to break the stalemate as Donovan launched a ball over the top to Keane, who easily found the back of the net. The dynamic duo combined again in stoppage time when Donovan fired a pass that sprung Keane behind the defense. From there, the Galaxy captain marched up field and calmly beat Wardy Alfaro to double the lead.

The two forwards have been unstoppable as of late as they have had a role in each of the team’s nine goals over their last three matches across all competitions. With the pair clicking at the moment, there is no doubt that for the Galaxy to challenge for a third consecutive MLS Cup title—and advance from the CONCACAF Champions League group stage—they’ll need Donovan and Keane up top.

OPARE PASSES FIRST REAL TEST IN BACK FOUR

LA Galaxy rookie Kofi Opare received his first competitive start for the Galaxy on Tuesday and shined in the 2-0 victory.

Throughout the match, the 6-foot-2 Opare was routinely able to win balls in the air and outmaneuver former Costa Rican goal scoring champion Randall Brenes. His only blemish came in the 38th minute when he received a questionable yellow card from referee Hector Rodriguez for a shove of a Costa Rican attacker. The yellow card could be costly for the 22-year-old as he will be suspended for a match if he receives another caution in the Group Stage. But the rookie’s shining moment came in the 57th minute when he denied a Cartaginés opportunity from close range with a timely block that led directly to a Galaxy counter attack.

Not only did Opare look settled in the attack, but he also looked confident facing goal as he had a pair of chances to tally his first goal in an LA uniform. This confidence is likely to benefit the rookie, who has clearly become a major contender for minutes along the Galaxy back four.

GALAXY SET THEMSELVES UP WELL FOR VANCOUVER AND NEXT CCL MATCH

The LA Galaxy were not just able to get an important victory in their bid to advance from the CCL group stage, but they also had the opportunity to do so while resting several key starters.

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena opted for a mix and match lineup that saw him start just five of the 11 players who started in Saturday's 4-2 victory over Real Salt Lake. All of five of the players went the distance, but Arena was also able to use players like Opare, Pablo Mastroeni and Jose Villarreal, who are expected to be utilized during the stretch run. The opportunity to rest players like A.J. DeLaGarza and Juninho should benefit LA with their vital match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC this weekend.

Not only did LA give several players a needed breather, but the two goal victory should put LA into a good position heading into their next CCL match on Sept. 18 against Isidro Metapán at StubHub Center. Due to a wrinkle in the scheduling, before LA play their second match in the tournament, Cartagines will have three matches under their belt as they take on Metapán next week in Costa Rica. After that match, we should have a much clearer picture of what the Galaxy will need to do to advance into the knockout stages.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com