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Keane brace lifts Galaxy past TFC to top West

Keane shot by Kelvin Kuo USA TODAYPhoto by Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports


CARSON, Calif. — Though it may only last for 12 hours, the Los Angeles Galaxy have reached the summit of the Major League Soccer mountain.

The Galaxy rolled past Toronto FC, 3-0, behind a brace of first-half goals from Robbie Keane on a hot indian summer night Saturday at the Stub Hub Center. In the process, the Galaxy pulled ahead in the Supporter’s Shield race and took over first place in the Western Conference.

Both Galaxy goals featured the high pass count buildup that has become the team’s trademark this season. The first goal came after 10 consecutive Galaxy passes, and the second goal following 22.

It was the latter goal that will surely make the highlight reels next week.  After a steady progression of passes up the field, Keane pulled down a long A.J. DeLaGarza cross and fired a stunning volley to the far post to beat Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who was frozen on his line and could make no attempt on the ball.

“It was nice. It’s always nice to score goals,” Keane said after the match. “But the important thing is the three points.”

Galaxy legend-in-the-making Landon Donovan was also credited with an assist on the goal, which quietly gave him the MLS all-time assist record, surpassing Steve Ralston. It was Donovan’s 136th regular season assist of his career.

“You know, to be honest, it wasn’t on my radar at the start of the season,” said Donovan when asked about the assist record. “It wasn’t overly realistic in my mind. But when the team plays like this, it was just natural. When you have players like we have on this team, I just put the ball in the right spot and those guys do the rest.”

Donovan was subbed off in the 84th minute and received a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 24,064.

Keane opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when he found space at the Toronto six-yard line and alertly poked home a Marcelo Sarvas feed. Keane’s brace accounted for his 18th and 19th goals on the season, and when considered along with his 14 season assists, surely puts the Irish international in the conversation for league MVP.

Asked about his chances at the MVP award, though, Keane was reticent.

“It’s not my job or my decision to make,” he said. “My job is the team, to do my job for the team.  Score goals, create goals. I can’t worry or concentrate on other things apart from that. Trust me, the last thing on my mind is the MVP.”

Alan Gordon added a tally just before the final whistle, firing off a rocket from 35 yards to beat Bendik to the upper 90.  It was Gordon’s sixth goal on the season off the bench.

There was some bad news for the Galaxy, as their full back injury parade continued. Robbie Rogers, who has revitalized his career with his move from the midfield to left back, was subbed off in only the 16th minute of play. His status is unclear.

He was replaced by James Riley, who played his first minutes since late March, when he went down with a knee injury. The Galaxy have also spent the majority of the season without the services of Todd Dunivant, who has suffered not one but two injuries this season, and who appears to be done for the season.

“I was hesitant about putting him in that early in the game,” said Arena when asked about Riley. “The thinking was, he’d probably have to come off at some point in the second half. But he hung in there, and that’s terrific.  To be able to give us seventy five minutes or so on a night where we needed it, that’s big.”

It was a discouraging night for TFC. Heralded designated player Michael Bradley hardly factored in the match, and while Jermaine Defoe looked lively in his 30-minute stint, he could not help the Reds put anything on frame in the second half.

If Toronto intend to reach the post season with their pricey acquisitions, Greg Vanney’s coaching staff will have to hurry. They now sit outside the playoffs, on 40 points, three back of Columbus Crew, with four games left to play.

Toronto head home to host the Houston Dynamo in a midweek match on Wednesday, followed by a trip to New Jersey to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, now sit on 60 points, a three-point edge of Seattle Sounders, pending the outcome of tomorrow’s game. The Sounders host the Colorado Rapids Sunday.

The Galaxy travel to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas next Sunday in a nationally televised match.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Only got to see about half the game, but from what I saw Toronto did well on everything except the “taking a shot” part. Some really beautiful passing sequences, but no one to pull the trigger. I don’t even want to say they failed in the final third—more like the final fifth. Frustrating.

    • You must have seen the second half… Toronto did absolutely nothing of note in the first half (aside from an early on-target shot by Luke Moore). They were more involved in the second because the Galaxy took their foot off the pedal.

      • Yeah, I caught the last 10 minutes of the first and then all of the second.

        And don’t get me wrong: saying that a team “did everything well except take shots” is far from a compliment.

      • It’s not a scoring contest. It’s a “most valuable player” contest. If you just want to count goals and assists, then award a Golden Boot, not MVP.

        Game-winning goals count more than 3rd or 4th goals. Wins count more than draws. Team performance when the player is on the field compared to when he’s not. And on teams like LA and Seattle that have multiple stars, team performance when other stars are not available matters too.

      • Keane with 5 game winning goals now, Martins with 2. Keane with 6 game winning assist, Martins with 3. If Martins closes strong and Seattle win SS he could be MVP but I don’t see how it’s not Keane if the voting was today.

      • It’s supposed to be MVP of the regular season though, right? It may come down to which team wins the SS, but the post season should have no bearing on the vote.

      • Jack,

        In the early season when LD was semi-fit, Robbie was The Man for Galaxy—which went 2-3-4. When Dempsey has been out for Seattle, Obafemi has led them 5-2-1.

        When LA played without Keane, they went 2-0-1 (and +9 goal differential). Without Martins, Seattle went 1-2-0 and only scored 2 goals.

        (If you think I’m arguing that Martins is hands-down the MVP, then you’re misreading. My point was that it is too close to call.)

      • Your analysis suggests something of an MVP case for Donovan. In Keane’s absence the team, led by Donovan, looked stronger than it had ever looked before. Now, with both of them playing at the top of their game, Donovan creates a quarter of the Galaxy’s goal-scoring opportunities — twice as many as Keane (or anyone else). Of course, since their roles are different this whole discussion involves an apples-and-oranges sort of comparison. And since consistency (or the lack thereof) must be taken into account, Donovan’s poor start to the season (the result, I think, of Klinsmann’s mind games rather than Donovan’s being “semi-fit,” as you suggest) should probably leave him out of consideration.

      • Advocate: Yes, there is certainly a strong case to be made for Donovan as well, but—as you say—he hurt his chances early in the season.

        Do you think that Donovan was fully fit at the start of the season? fwiw, I don’t ascribe much to “Klinsmann’s mind games,” but even if such exists, an MVP should rise above that.

      • KGE: As I recall, Donovan was fit enough to play 90 minutes every game from the first day of the season. But, to me, he never quite seemed himself, either at the end of last season or the beginning of this one. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m inclined to think that the souring of his relationship with Klinsmann was to blame. Now that he’s put Klinsmann behind him, even though he’s lost some of his youthful speed, he’s clearly playing as well or better than ever before. I know that others view the matter differently, but I consider Klinsmann entirely to blame. It’s a manager’s job to get the most out of his people; Klinsmann doesn’t seem to have a clue how to do that. He squandered Donovan’s talent for the US team. Compare the performance Arena has gotten out of Donovan.

      • Advocate, that’s a fair reply. I’m not sure what the truth is and choose to interpret the scarce publicly known facts differently, but I can’t really disagree with you.

      • You’re a Seattle fan, right? Not trying to poison the well, but it seems like the ONLY people who “aren’t convinced yet” are those pulling for their boy Obafemi. Oba’s had a great season, and he’s certainly more important to Seattle than Dempsey this season, but he’s just not as good Keane.

      • Ian,

        First, while I follow Seattle, no fan would consider me a fan because it is one of a handful of teams I like. (And if MVP voting were open to anyone other than goalscorers, then Seattle’s MVP would be Marshall, without question.)

        Second, it seems like the ONLY people are “are convinced” that Keane is MVP are LA Galaxy fans—and their “anyone who doesn’t a agree with me is brainless” coach.

        Third, if you’re not trying to poison the well, then don’t. Challenging someone’s position because of who they support is pointless (see my second point). Challenge their position based on their position.

        Last, I think there are really only three candidates for MVP: Keane, Martins, and Donovan. Note that I did not say, “deserved candidates”: MVP is almost always awarded to a player who wasn’t really the most-valuable. It should be that without the MVP, a team would have performed horribly. I’m not a Revolution fan at all, but Nguyen seems to have a stronger argument than either Martins or Keane put together.

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