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Donovan ties assist record as Galaxy thrash Red Bulls

LD LAG NYRB by Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAYPhoto by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports


CARSON, Calif. — As a part of his ongoing farewell tour, Landon Donovan received a Tiffany’s tie pin and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City from the New York Red Bulls prior to the match. After Donovan’s record-setting performance dissecting the New York defense, the Red Bulls might want to include a note: “Come to the Big Apple, but please don’t bring your soccer cleats.”

Donovan scored once and had three assists as the Los Angeles Galaxy romped past the New York Red Bulls, 4-0, before a sellout crowd of 25,102 at the Stub Hub Center on a balmy Sunday night.

Donovan’s three assists brings his MLS career total to 135, tying Steve Ralston’s record, and gives him 18 on the season, tops in the league.

“To get an assist record, you have to have a lot of people scoring goals. It’s not just putting the ball in the right place, it’s people finishing,” Donovan said. “They scored three very good goals tonight. I’ve had a lot of guys score a lot of goals on my behalf, so it’s a credit to all of them, too.”

Donovan’s goal doubled the Galaxy lead in the 50th minute. Omar Gonzales sent a long ball into the New York penalty area, and when Red Bulls defender Chris Duvall lost control of the ball off his chest, Donovan was waiting to pounce. Donovan sprinted in behind Duvall, grabbed the ball, and rifled off a shot to beat New York goal keeper Luis Robles wide.

The goal is Donovan’s 10th of the season, and marks the eighth time in his career he’s reached double digits in goals scored. It also adds to Donovan’s all time MLS goals record, which now stands at 144.

The Galaxy’s first goal — assisted, as ever, by Donovan — came of a Robbie Keane wonder strike in the 8th minute. Donovan split two defenders and carried the ball fifty yards into New York territory, found Keane at the opposite end of the 18, and the Irish international did the rest. Keane juked NYRB defender Roy Miller to create space wide of the goal mouth, and then chipped a charging Luis Robles to feather the ball into the far side netting.

“Classic Robbie Keane,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena after the match. “Two important goals tonight. Obviously that first one was spectacular. Overall, a very good game.”

Keane and Donovan connected again late in the game. Donovan lofted a long ball from midfield to send Keane in deep behind the New York defense. Keane beat Robles, then Sakagya, then Robles again before poking the ball home for the game’s final tally and Donovan’s record-tying assist. The goal is Keane’s 17th on the season, to go with 16 assists.

Gyasi Zardes added a goal to the rout, taking a flawless wall pass from Donovan and beating Robles low and wide. The goal was the Galaxy’s third of the night, and coming in the 69th minute, it effectively put the game out of reach. It is Zardes’ 16th goal on the season.

It was not always easy for the Galaxy. The Red Bulls came out of starting gates with a fury, initiating several on-field scraps in the first few minutes, and despite conceding the opening goal, had the better of the Galaxy for much of the first half.

The heroics of Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo kept the Red Bulls from taking control of the scoreboard. Penedo charged out and stuffed MLS Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips twice from close range in the first half, and added a spectacular leaping save just before the half on an Eric Anderson strike to maintain the Galaxy lead.

“Over the last six weeks, he’s played very well,” Arena said about his Panamanian net-minder. “He’s improved in every area. His confidence has improved, his feet have gotten better, he’s very good coming off his line. Tonight he made a bunch of key saves to prevent the Red Bulls from getting back in the game.”

The Red Bulls faded in the second half however, and became spectators to the Galaxy’s, and Landon Donovan’s, spectacular run of form.

“I think they really died in the second half,” said Donovan. “They couldn’t match our energy, and the way we pressed just wore them down. They couldn’t hang.”

The Red Bulls now drop into fifth in the Eastern Conference, with only a point separating them from sixth place Toronto and playoff oblivion. New York will welcome Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon in New Jersey.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, keep pace with the Seattle Sounders for first place in the Western Conference and in the Supporter’s Shield race. Both teams sit on 57 points with four matches to play, two of them against one another.

For Donovan, this run of form may be among the best of his career, but he was quick to share credit.

“I’ve always tried to be a guy who makes the right play,” Donovan said when asked what it meant to reach the assist record. “If that means making the pass that leads to the right pass that scores the goal, if that means making the pass that leads to the goal, if that means shooting when you need to shoot, I try to make the right decision in those moments.

“More often then not, when I’ve made the right decision, guys have gotten in good spots and scored. That’s something I’m proud of. I always wanted to be that type of player. I didn’t want to be one dimensional. I wanted to have all different parts to my game. I hope that showed.”

The Galaxy will stay in Los Angeles and host Michael Bradley and a resurgent Toronto FC on Saturday night.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. He should have gone to Everton, where he could test himself against the best….in 14th place dreading the rest of the season.

    Man, he looks so good. I guess the fine line is finding the time to “go out on top”

    • Everton “dreading the rest of the season” my ass. Slow start? Yeah, but they have the depth, leadership (both on the field and in the coaching staff), and talent to make a run as good as or better than last year’s. And Donovan has tested himself against the best on the international stage and consistently done well. Soccer in the US would not be where it is today without Landon in MLS

  2. So here’s Petke’s apparent “thought” process over the past week:

    – I have a must-win CCL game, and a difficult MLS game in LA where a draw would be considered a great result.
    – I can’t send out all scrubs against FAS, so I’ll use just enough important starters to (1) make the FAS game competitive and (2) make the LA game even harder. This manages to make the team weaker than it might have been for BOTH games. So I have risked CCL for a chance at maybe a point in MLS.
    – Having lost at FAS — and having lost two of those starters anyway — I think I’ll tinker with the lineup that has actually earned points in MLS play by breaking up the McCarty/Alexander shiled and taking my second DP, one of whose main assets is the ability to win balls in the air, and move him far, far away from the goal.
    – And finally, when we fall behind 2-0, I’ll use my first substitution to insert another defender.
    – I wonder why it is that, as a former defender, I still haven’t figured out this defense thing after almost two years. My team still concedes goals in bunches.
    – After this year, I guess I can say goodbye to Henry, whose frustration about the defense could boil over at any time.

    • I’m appalled at your post. Why on earth would you make sense at a time like this? We had all these experienced role players we could insert……………, we didn’t unless you needed Sene to rocket a PK into the 8th row. Look who we acquired this season: no, skip that, Jerome DeBontin was the smart one.

  3. Landon is good at making assists? But Jurgen told me he was a forward and that is why the guy that makes all the money that allowed me to afford Jurgen’s salary did not go to the World Cup. Because he obviously wasn’t better than our other forwards like that guy who sometimes gets to play for a bad team in the premier league, the guy who replaced that guy in Holland and was injured, and that Wondolousy guy.

  4. Please. Enough talk about this supposedly glittering LAG performance. The whole problem here is that Saer Sene, the team’s undeiable best player and emotional talisman, was utterly worn out fom earning that critical away result in El Salvador. We gave our second-stingers as much rest as possible cos you know… [Petke’s bosses or whatever excuse works this time]… but it was just a bridge to far for a team trying to negotiate a schedule that nobody else has to confront, really…. I emailed our strategic consultant, legendary MLS footballer Andrew Shue, who mentioned he probably agrees before asking me never contact him again.

    Moving along… Have you seen our Supporters’ Shield? Or as we more properly call it, the Petke Shield? Seattle has pushed the eBay bid up to $47.50! Thierry Henry almost bought it himself, but realzed it wouldn’t fit in his luggage and besides he doesn’t own a dog..

  5. Nice to see the Galaxy play more compact on the flanks and in the middle. I meant the WHOLE team playing more compact on the flanks and middle. I see less conservatism in trying to PENETRATE defenses. The Galaxy switch points of attack in the midfield much better. All of this happened when they switched from there diamond midfield. There Diamond midfield really helped defensively, but was too SPREAD OUT in midfield and the final third. The Galaxy is attacking space and making better use of open space off the ball too. Instead of being a critic for so long of the Galaxy they are finally conforming to more international standards instead of the British game. As a result they are making other teams look really bad when the Galaxy can click. It’s nice to see the coaching staff evolve and the younger players like Zardes evolving too. The Galaxy play with more of a Brazilian Box Midfield type system. Good defensive pressure and good offensive compact play that creates many 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 situations on the flanks and middle of the field. Don’t change anything in the playoffs Galaxy. It’s so fun to watch the Galaxy right now.

    • They moved out of the diamond once Omar got back from the WC healthy. It also helps that AJ didn’t (knock on wood) receive a prolonged late season injury like the last 2 seasons. With those two healthy and Rogers and Gargan playing well, the rest of the team can be more offensive.

  6. My first game of the year after being a season ticket holder for 5 years. What a privilege to be there. Landon has entered the matrix. Time has slowed down for him on the field. The. Chants from the stands were “one more year!” Such a shame if he needs to quit now. It would be such a gift if he gave us another year. Keane’s goal was 100% keano and zardes’ improvement this year is ridiculous. Aimless shooting to perfect runs. One more thing. Massive props to Rogers who Underachieved for so long and is now killing it. Wait, not done. AJ is most likely one of the top defenders in MLS. His positioning and speed are amazing. He plays two feet taller than he stands.

  7. Wow, speechless. I expected more from the New York team, red bull 🙂
    I thought red bull would come in and play like a true team and now, it’s either sounders or galaxy as MLS champions because the east is really weak.
    Even if sounders or galaxy don’t reach MLS cup and Dallas or RSL represent the west, the west will still win MLS cup.
    So saying that, skc and dc are the best hope for the east, now that red bull couldn’t take a true challenge.

    • Tell me about it…. What’s worse, look at the “SBI Leading Topics” graphic at the right and notice that “Seattle Sounders” are not even listed!!!! Even “David Carney” made the cut somehow!

      Seattle invented lower division soccer.


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