VANCOUVER, B.C. -- An early goal from Landon Donovan was enough Saturday night, as the LA Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 at BC Place in front a sold out crowd of 21,000.
Donovan opened the scoring in the third minute with a shot into the top left side of goal from outside the area. Matt Watson gave up the ball in his own half before Johnny Leveron inadvertently teed up Donovan by poking the ball away from Robbie Keane.
A world-class save from Jaime Penedo in the 82nd minute was just as crucial as Donovan's goal. The Panamanian recovered after making a dive for a Kekuta Manneh shot that hit the post to spring and deny the rebound chance from Jordan Harvey.
The win pushed the Galaxy to second place in the tight Western Conference with 40 points while dropping the Whitecaps, on 36 points, to sixth.
Gershon Koffie came inches away in the 10th minute, dispossessing Landon Donovan just past the halfway circle before unleashing a stinging, swerving effort that just went wide of the top right corner.
Nigel Reo-Coker forced Penedo into a stop with a long-range effort in first half-stoppage time. The Englishman made a surging run from midfield before Penedo pushed the shot wide for a corner.
Kenny Miller missed a gilt-edged opportunity in the 53rd minute, scuffing a left-footed effort well wide from inside the area. The Scotsman shanked his shot after Darren Mattocks whiffed on a Russell Teibert pass across the box.
Jordan Harvey broke through clean on goal in the 66th minute, but attempted to pass it to Darren Mattocks rather than shoot. The Galaxy managed to react well and break up the pass before the play eventually came to nothing.
Vancouver also appealed for several handballs in the match, including on a play deep into second-half stoppage time in which Juninho handled the ball in the box following a teammate's clearance. But given the range, referee Armando Villareal appeared to view the play as ball to hand rather than hand to ball – despite the screams of 21,000 with a contrary view of the play.
Moments later, Keane missed a shot from close range, firing a shot into the side netting, before Villareal blew the game's final whistle.
The Galaxy, improving to 12-9-4, are back at home next weekend, as they host the San Jose Earthquakes at the StubHub Center on Saturday. The Whitecaps, dropping to 10-9-6, play host to Chivas USA next Sunday at BC Place.