VANCOUVER, B.C. – Conceding late goals has been a recurrent problem for the LA Galaxy this season, but in perhaps, one of their more impressive performances of the season, LA were able to make the big plays when needed to defeat Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-0 in a vital Western Conference clash.
Landon Donovan put LA ahead early, firing a shot past David Ousted from 25 yards out, finishing off a move that deftly illustrated the Galaxy’s counterattacking capabilities. A.J. DeLaGarza won the ball at midfield and dribbled past a pair of Vancouver defenders before playing forward to the feet of Keane. Johnny Leveron stepped in to close down Keane and deflected the ball into the path of Donovan, who took one touch before finishing for his seventh goal of the season.
From there, the Galaxy saw themselves tested repeatedly by a desperate Whitecaps FC side that controlled the final possession by a 55.6 to a 44.4 margin. However, LA never buckled as they held their shape defensively and limited Vancouver’s clear looks at goal.
”You know this reminds me of [the 2011 season] when we were winning games 1-0. Those games are really important for us, and we used to pride ourselves on winning games 1-0, and tonight we really worked hard as a team,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “Everyone had each other’s back, and individual moments also were a big key factor with Jaime in goal making a big save for us for us to save three points, so all around I thought it was a great game.”
When Vancouver did get by Gonzalez and the Galaxy defense, Penedo stepped up as he made five saves on the evening. No save was more important—or remarkable—than his stop in the 82nd minute off Jordan Harvey. After a Kekuta Manneh shot rattled the post, the rebound fell to Harvey, who was alone behind the Galaxy defense with Penedo was caught out of position and just an empty net ahead of him. However, the Panamanian ‘keeper scrambled back to his feet and was able to extend his body and make a clutch one-handed save that kept Vancouver off the board.
“It was a fast play and the fact that I made the save helped us win the three points. I was able to react and we were able to win an important game,” said Penedo.
While Penedo was modest about his stellar play, Donovan and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena raved about the ‘keeper’s fine stop.
“Great save. What more can you say?” said Arena. “We’ve not had a lot of these opportunities this year where we can close out a game but we got it done tonight.”
“The save could potentially be save of the year,” asserted Donovan. “Other than that he was really solid. He came off his line, he was aggressive, he made solid saves when he needed to, he came and got the ball off crosses when he needed to. You can’t ask more of a goalie in a game like this. I thought he was excellent.”
Based on LA’s victory and other results around the league on Saturday, LA currently sit five points behind Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the West and in MLS. With nine games left in the regular season, LA believe that they’re ready to mount a serious challenge.
“That’s the kind of game that champions win,” said Donovan. “We know when the playoffs come, hopefully, that’s what the games look like and that was a huge performance.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com