CARSON, Calif. – When Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are at their best, the LA Galaxy are head and shoulders the best team in MLS and after Tuesday’s showing in CONCACAF Champions League play, we may have to add North America to that list.
Keane tallied twice in the game’s closing 30 minutes with Donovan setting up both goals to help LA to a 2-0 victory over CS Cartagines in their CCL Group 8 opener at StubHub Center. Over the last three matches in all competitions, the pair has been instrumental to LA’s success as they’ve either scored or setup each of the nine goals the Galaxy have scored in that span.
Although it was Keane who found the back of the net twice, it was Donovan who served as the catalyst to the victory as LA struggled to break down the energetic Brumosos before he came on in the 61st minute. As soon as Donovan replaced Jose Villarreal however, the script was flipped as he combined with Keane twice to power LA to victory.
“I think we saw the difference once Landon came on, we’re in tune with each other. We know each other’s runs and where we’re going to be so that was the case for the two goals,” said Keane. “Looking up for us, we got the two goals…overall, it was a decent performance. Wasn’t brilliant but it was decent.”
Keane may have been lukewarm about LA’s showing over the match as a whole, but there was no missing the brilliance of his connection with Donovan. Throughout Donovan’s 30 minute shift, the pair’s collective movement proved superior to the Costa Ricans, who struggled to find a way to mark the pair each time they marched up field.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena had just a simple word to describe the showing: “fabulous.”
Omar Gonzalez agreed as he admitted that “when they’re on the field, good things happen.”
That’s precisely what the two goals were as each time, Donovan was able to launch a clever pass up field that found Keane in plenty of space to beat Cartaginés ‘keeper Wardy Alfaro.
“He makes it easy for me. I know if I put the ball in the right spot, more often than not he's going to score,” said Donovan of Keane. “And I know if I make the right runs, more often than not he's going to get me the ball. So it makes it real easy.”
The victory puts LA level with Cartaginés with three points apiece in Group 8, but ahead on goal difference by a two goal margin. Although the club is still a long way from qualification for the quarterfinals, Donovan is confident that LA’s performance on Tuesday has put them in a good position heading into their next CCL match on Sept. 18 against Isidro Metapán.
“It was important to win this game because we have two games at home,” said Donovan. “We want to win and we want to win by a lot of goals, so the next game will be important. We’ll see how [Cartaginés’] game goes [at home against Metapán on Aug. 27]…and we’ll see what we need to do going forward.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com