LA Galaxy expecting tough test against a “desperate” Philadelphia Union

CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan, just left off the final U.S. National Team World Cup roster, is expected to be available Sunday when the LA Galaxy take on the Philadelphia Union at StubHub Center (5 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Univision Deportes).

Donovan’s presence is just one reason why things suddenly are starting to look up for the LA Galaxy (3-3-3, 12 points), who only a few days ago were in last place in the Western Conference and coming off a winless, four-game road trip.

Now the Galaxy are coming off a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in their first home game in more than a month.

“It has been a long few weeks away from home,” said Robbie Keane, who had a goal – his sixth of the season – in the victory. “So it was certainly nice to be in your back garden.”

But this is no time to slow down, cautioned Gyasi Zardes, who made his first start since the season opener and scored the game-winning goal just before halftime and also had an assist.

“You have to go forward,” he said. “The past is the past, for a reason you learn from it and you go forward and move on from the things you’ve done wrong in the past.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, for one, is hoping for continued improvement.

“We’re happy with the result,” he said of the win earlier in the week. “I think we could have been a little more complete in our game. We’ve played a number of pretty good games this year and haven’t gotten that kind of result.

“We’re pleased with the result and we need to get another one on Sunday.”

The Union (2-6-5, 11 points), in ninth place in the East and ahead of only the Montreal Impact, are trying to rebound from a wild 5-3 loss to the New England Revolution last week. The five conceded goals matched a club record and manager John Hackworth understandably was not pleased.

“That performance wasn’t good enough all the way around,” he said. “I think it gets literally crazy that you don’t even expect what was happening out there.

“I’m sure we will find some positives when we look back on it, but right now it’s a poor, poor performance.”

The Galaxy are 4-1-1 all-time against the Union, including a 4-1 victory at Philadelphia’s PPL Park last May 15. But the Union won the last meeting between the clubs in Southern California, 2-1, on July 4, 2012.

Arena said he is expecting a real challenge.

“They’re a team whose record probably doesn’t indicate their play this year,” he said of the Union, who are led by Sebastien Le Toux’s three goals and two each from Leo Fernandes, Vincent Nogueira and Maurice Edu, another U.S. roster casualty who is expected to play Sunday. “They have a very athletic team, they’re going to be hard to play against.

“It’s a team that’s desperate to get points. It’s going to be a very difficult game.”