Philly Sports Live

Donovan, Galaxy Embarrass Union 4-1

Despite their occasional struggles and the fact that most of their stars are heading towards AARP status, the Los Angeles Galaxy have proven over the last two-plus seasons that they are a world class outfit.  Coming into Philadelphia having lost their last two games, they showed the Union what a class performance looks like. Landon Donovan, playing amongst speculation that he will be left out of the US Men’s National Team roster for its summer World Cup Qualifying games, contributed in all of L.A.’s goals en route to an emphatic 4-1 win.

The game started off ominously for the Union; the Galaxy opened the scoring after just two minutes, when Zac MacMath misplayed a Donovan corner, the ball hitting his face, then the crossbar, then the twine.  Philadelphia’s forwards looked stunned, but started to push offensively in response.  They were almost the beneficiaries of an own goal when Omar Gonzales nearly missed clearing a Danny Cruz cross into his own net.  On the ensuing corner, L.A. ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini made an incredible stop to deny Kleberson, making his first start for the Union, on a headed chance.

The breakthrough would finally come when Amobi Okugo got loose in the middle and headed home one of Sheanon Williams’s trademark long bomb throw-ins to equalize the score in the 23rd minute.  The Union kept pressing from that point, but couldn’t capitalize.  The Galaxy also had several chances before the half, with Donovan almost connecting on a corner and A.J. DeLaGarza almost scoring off a free kick from the former American captain.

Despite his early game blunder, MacMath played well and managed to keep his team in the game, making an incredible stop on a Donovan breakaway early in the second half.  Meanwhile, the offense sputtered and midfielders struggled to get the ball forward.  Kleberson was instrumental in sparking chances, coming close early in the second half to giving the Union the lead off a Keon Daniel corner.  Danny Cruz made some good runs on the wing, but was unable to execute any scoring chances.  Daniel was clearly the albatross on the midfield, committing a number of unforced errors and at one point drawing the ire of Jack McInerney, who screamed at Daniel after he opted to back-pass to Ray Gaddis instead of feeding the streaking forward en route to the Galaxy cage.

By this point, the Union had already inserted Antoine Hoppenot and Connor Casey into the game to generate some attack.  Casey had started on the bench in favor of Sebastien Le Toux, who played more of a supporting role to McInerney instead of a striking one.

But for all the pressure the offense was attempting to apply, the defense made a huge error in the 71st Minute.  Losing track of Gaddis and getting free in the box, Robbie Keane took a touch pass from Donovan and beat a helpless MacMath to give L.A. the lead.  After the goal, Keane, who is known for his trademark cartwheels after he scores, simply walked over in front of the Sons of Ben and raised his arms, almost taunting the home supporter’s group.

Attempting to salvage a point at home, Union manager John Hackworth pushed his team forward.  They controlled the ball in Galaxy territory, but were stifled by the defense and their own ineptitude.  Ten minutes after Keane had put them ahead, L.A. had a counterattack opportunity, as Hector Jimenez got free on the right side with enough room to run a small beet farm, took a feed from Donovan and slotted it just inside the post to MacMath’s right.

Down two goals, Hackworth subbed out defender Bakary Soumare in favor of Michael Farfan, and again the Union pressed harder, only to give up another goal on the counterattack.  This time, Keane and Donovan raced forward with just Daniel and Brian Carroll to defend.  When Daniel came over to help Carroll contain Keane, the Irishman fed a long lead pass onto Donovan, who cooly strode in, dribbled around a prostrate MacMath, and almost literally walked the ball into the net.  The goal signified the night perfectly, both the Galaxy’s dominance, and the Union’s inferiority.

The Union did get one final chance, off a corner in the 89th minute.  McInnerney won the battle in the air from the restart over DeLaGarza, heading the ball in towards Hoppenot, who turned the ball into the net.  The goal, however, was called back when the referee deemed that Jack had fouled DeLaGarzea in the contest for the ball.  The whistle blew soon after that, ending the misery for the Union and the PPL Park crowd, most of whom who had departed after L.A.’s third goal.

The loss snapped the Union’s three-game unbeaten streak, and dropped their home record to 1-2-2 for the year.  Whether or not the quick turnaround from Saturday’s game in Chicago had any effect on the team’s performance is uncertain.  To add to all of that, the Union get just a 72-hour respite before their next encounter against the Fire, this Saturday night.  Game time is 7:30, and if you can’t make it out to PPL Park, you can catch it on The Comcast Network.

As always, stay tuned to Philly Sports Live and The Soccer Desk for all your Union and MLS news and updates.

(Photo courtesy of MLS)