BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — During the first two weeks of their season, the Los Angeles Galaxy struggled to score goals, but against DC United, the goals finally came.
And they came in bunches.
Robbie Keane scored two goals and Marcelo Sarvas added a third as the Galaxy defeated DC United, 3-1 on Sunday at Home Depot Center. United broke the Galaxy's shutout bid in the 86th when rookie Nick DeLeon scored the first goal of his MLS career. The win came on the night when the 2011 MLS Cup champion winning side was honored with a pregame championship ring presentation.
After struggling to put the ball in the back of the net in his past three appearances, Keane was relieved that, at long last, the goals had come.
"I don’t mind missing chances, I mind when I’m not in the position to score them," Keane said. "As long as I keep getting in the positions to score them, then I know that I’ll eventually score.
"You try not to let it weigh on your mind too much, but football can take you over. That was probably a little bit of the case, but I knew that as long as I kept plugging away and getting into positions, I knew that I’d score."
While Los Angeles earned the victory, the first half started off very similar to their three previous matches. Once again, the Galaxy were able to control possession and throw numbers forward, but yet again, they were unable to put the ball into the back of the net.
Los Angeles finally broke through in the 45th minute when Mike Magee sent a cross into the box to a waiting Todd Dunivant. The Galaxy defender then headed the ball across the goal mouth to Keane, who earned his first goal of the season.
Keane and the Galaxy continued the pressure in the second half and in the 69th minute, the Ireland captain earned his second. After Landon Donovan forced a turnover from United's Branko Boskovic, the Galaxy captain marched up the field and found Keane, who fired a shot past a diving Joe Willis.
"I had been getting the chances, but sometimes it’s the easy one that we’re lucky enough to score," said Keane. "It was a great ball by Todd and I just had to hit the target as a striker, it’s your duty to be scoring goals so it’s always important especially to start the season to get that first one out of the way. Then to get the second one, it was important that I got the second goal to kill them off."
The Galaxy would add a third goal in the 86th minute when newcomer Marcelo Sarvas put the match officially out of reach. The goal was not only the first MLS goal for the Brazilian, but according to Sarvas himself, the first goal that he had ever scored with his head throughout his ten year professional career.
D.C. will be left to reflect on difficult performance as the club consistently struggled to generate chances. With Designated Players, Boskovic and Hamidi Salihi on the bench to start the match, United appeared to lack a cutting edge going forward against a stingy Galaxy defense. Although a stellar strike by DeLeon would bring United to within two of the defending MLS Cup champions, head coach Ben Olsen was dissatisfied with his club's performance.
“I’m disappointed in the group,” Olsen told reporters following the match “I thought we gave [Los Angeles] too much respect early. We didn’t get that this was going to be one hell of a fight.”
United will look to earn their first victory of the season next Saturday when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps, but will do so without Andy Najar, who departed to join the Honduran Under-23 side after the match. Despite beginning the season win-less, Olsen believes that it is not time for his club to hit the panic button.
"There are signs of improvement, we just have to keep improving," Olsen said after the match. "I'm concerned after 0-2, no one wants to be 0-2 and have to deal with this, but we're moving forward and we'll get things sorted out."
Meanwhile the Galaxy will enjoy a two week bye as they look to recover from playing four matches in two weeks. A brake the Galaxy believe that they have sorely needed.
"It's tough way to start the year, now we get a little reprieve to catch our breath a little," Donovan said. "First and foremost is to rest and then second is to get on the field on work on things. You kind underestimate that part of it, I know we're all pros and there is a lot of experience here, but there are a few guys who have never played together and we need that chance start gelling."