Landon Donovan scored two goals and set one up as the LA Galaxy defeated the Whitecaps 4-0 at Empire Field on Saturday night. The win extends the Galaxy’s unbeaten record to 14 games.
The first half was one of missed opportunities for both sides. The Whitecaps started stronger, controlling the ball well, as Shea Salinas and Davide Chiumiento created a number of opportunities for their teammates.
Newly signed Designated Player Mustapha Jarju nearly started his competitive home debut with a quick goal to start things off, after Eric Hassli drove down to the touchline in the 4th minute before setting up the Gambian international from close range. Perhaps rust got the better of the lanky striker, however, as Jarju fired well over when he should have at least tested Josh Saunders with a shot on target.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The Galaxy, for their part, saved their first-half forays for the final few minutes.
Juninho’s half-volley from outside the box in the 38th minute produced the best moment of the half as Joe Cannon reacted brilliantly to swat the ball out for the corner.
But Cannon’s work wasn’t over yet, as Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter got on the end of Donovan’s corner a minute later with a headed attempt which forced the two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year into a world-class reflex save from close range, meaning the teams went in tied 0-0 at the half.
The second half started fervently, with Juninho forcing Cannon into a diving save early in the 46th minute, before Jarju led a break shortly later, giving the ball to Hassli at the top of the area. The Frenchman exhibited some fancy footwork before getting off a low hard shot which went just wide to Saunders’ left.
Salinas came close to scoring the opener in the 58th minute, cutting into the Galaxy box, but the Texan’s low shot took a ricochet off the post and was eventually cleared to danger to moans of the watching south stand.
The Galaxy though, had a killer response in the 61st minute, as Landon Donovan scored after Michael Boxall took a tumble. The American star found himself one on one with Cannon after a great ball over the top from Sean Franklin, and coolly finished to give his team the 1-0 lead.
Saunders had his best moment of the match in the 73rd minute, as Camilo Sanvezzo’s curling free kick effort forced him into slapping the ball out for a corner. And off that ensuing corner stand-in captain Alain Rochat nearly scored with a header, but it went just wide to Saunders’ left.
Donovan doubled his side’s lead in the 75th minute with a well-placed penalty kick past Cannon, who went the right way but not in time. Referee Baldomero Toledo gave the penalty for a handball from left fullback Jordan Harvey.
Winger Franklin added the cherry on top of the Galaxy victory with an 80th minute goal which he bundled over the line with a sliding finish. Donovan once again made the play, racing down the left side before hitting a dangerous ball right in front of Cannon with Franklin converted for the 3-0 goal.
Adam Cristman added insult to injury with a goal right in the final minute, meaning the game ended 4-0 for the Galaxy.
The Galaxy now prepare for a trip to Jeld-Wen Field to face another expansion side, the eighth place Portland Timbers, on Wednesday night, as they continue their quest for a Supporters’ Shield.
The Whitecaps, for their part, will play at home again next week, as they host the Chicago Fire at Empire Field on Sunday in an attempt to begin a climb off the bottom of the MLS standings.
LA Galaxy (12-2-9)
Vancouver Whitecaps (2-11-9)
LA -- Landon Donovan 10 (Sean Franklin 1) 61
LA -- Landon Donovan 11 (penalty kick) 75
LA -- Sean Franklin 2 (Landon Donovan 2) 80
LA -- Adam Cristman 1 (unassisted) 90
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, Michael Stephens (Dan Keat 85), Juninho, Landon Donovan (Miguel Lopez 84), Juan Pablo Angel (Adam Cristman 67), Mike Magee.
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Cardozo, Hector Jimenez, Bryan Jordan, Brian Perk.
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Joe Cannon, Jonathan Leathers (Peter Vagenas 73), Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat, Jordan Harvey, Shea Salinas, Davide Chiumiento (Michael Nanchoff 81), Gershon Koffie, Camilo, Mustopha Jarju (Nizar Khalfan 62), Eric Hassli.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Greg Janicki, Wes Knight, Jay Nolly.
LA -- Michael Stephens (caution; Tactical Foul) 65
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: -Colin Arblaster; Kevin Duliba
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:48