CARSON, Calif. – If the SuperClasico itself wasn't enough to spark the LA Galaxy's best performance this season, finding redemption after last week's debacle in Seattle certainly did the trick.
And Landon Donovan, the king of the Clasico, made sure they got exactly that, dishing off four assists as LA crushed Chivas USA, 4-0, Sunday night at The Home Depot Center to win the season series for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Donovan tied one Major League Soccer assists record – his quartet equaled the mark jointly held by Carlos Valderrama, Chris Henderson and Dwayne De Rosario – and climbed to fourth on the all-time list, three ahead of Jaime Moreno and within nine of Valderrama, who sits No. 2, as the Galaxy made a huge statement.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHV vs LA
“Our team was great tonight, and when we defend that way, it makes my job really easy,” said Donovan, who has a league-best 11 assists this season, 105 in his career and a Clasico-best 12 in 21 regular-season showdowns with the cross-stadium rivals. “I don't have to do a lot of defending. I can focus on things that I'm good at, and when I had the ball, guys made good runs, intelligent runs. They wanted the ball. They wanted to score, so it made it really easy.”
Donovan fed Keane following a 40-yard give-and-go with the Irishman for a 27th-minute lead, connected twice with Juninho, in the 64th and 74th minutes, then served in a corner kick for Omar Gonzalez to finish in the 83rd minute. LA improved to 11-11-3, opened a 10-point lead in the fight for the final Western Conference playoff berth and pulled within a point of third-place Seattle and fourth-place Vancouver.
“Landon was really focused on playing well tonight,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “When he wants, he's as good as any player in this league.”
Was it the Galaxy's best performance?
“Close,” Donovan said. “The first half against Vancouver [in a 3-0 victory on June 23] was good. As great as it feels, it only counts for three points, and if we don't get any points [Wednesday] in Columbus, then it doesn't mean as much.”
Donovan and Keane's partnership caused Chivas problems all night – “they're an absolute nightmare for defenses ... so unpredictable,” praised left back Todd Dunivant – and Brazilians Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho dictated the game in the absence of David Beckham, who was in London for the Olympic Closing Ceremonies.
“They were fantastic,” Donovan said. “Those two played really, really well. It's good now, it gives Bruce some headaches in decision-making. When you got a guy who is one of the best players in the league, who is not here, and those two play that well – it's a good problem to have.”