Galaxy back on track, topples Whitecaps, thanks to Keane misfires
CARSON, Calif. -- Robbie Keane’s touch seemed off Saturday night, and that was just perfect for the LA Galaxy.
Landon Donovan and Marcelo Sarvas scored first-half goals, both from mishit feeds from Keane, and the Galaxy put their struggles in Columbus and in in the opening 45 minutes in Colorado behind them with a comprehensive 2-0 triumph over visiting Vancouver.
Donovan struck in the fourth minute, ending the Whitecaps’ three-games-plus shutout streak at 325 minutes, and Sarvas in the 32nd, as LA spent most of the game patiently passing the ball through midfield, onto the flanks, and above and around Vancouver’s box.
The Galaxy (10-5-7) pulled within two points of Western Conference leaders FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake and Seattle while winning back-to-back games for the fifth time this season.
The fifth-place Whitecaps (7-5-12), who watched their six-game unbeaten streak end, lost for just the third time since back-to-back showdowns with LA in mid-April and remain nine points off the Western lead and seven in back of the Galaxy.
Vancouver was without its two first-choice holding midfielders -- Matias Laba is suspended and Gershon Koffie injured -- but Pedro Morales returned to his spot behind striker Darren Mattocks. A.J. DeLaGarza returned to left back for the Galaxy, with Todd Dunivant back on the bench, and Baggio Husidic got the call in midfield instead of Stefan Ishizaki, who had a minor toe injury.
Mauro Rosales, whom the Whitecaps acquired Thursday in a trade with Chivas USA, made his club debut at the start of the second half. Center back Johnny Leveron was red-carded in the 90th minute after a harsh tackle near midfield on Alan Gordon.
LA, which had conceded the first goal in their past four and five of their past six games, was ahead from the start. Donovan provided a fourth-minute lead with his sixth goal of the season, the fourth assisted by Keane.
Marcelo Sarvas chipped a ball from the right flank toward the penalty spot in Vancouver’s box, and Andy O’Brien beat Gyasi Zardes to the ball, nodding it out toward the top of the box. Keane stepped up to half-volley what appeared to be a shot, but the ball instead rolled through traffic to the far post, where Donovan placed it into the goal’s ceiling.
The Galaxy had 60 percent possession for the game -- they also had a 22-6 shot advantage -- but penetration into the Whitecaps’ area rarely come easily. Sarvas scored on LA’s next good chance, nearly a half-hour later.
Donovan sent a ball into the box for Sarvas, who backheeled it toward the middle for Keane. He tried to shoot left-footed but whiffed when he inadvertently nudged the ball forward with his right foot, and the ball rolled past two defenders toward the left post. Sarvas fired under goalkeeper David Ousted and inside the far post.
LA nearly scored two more, but Morales cleared a Husidic header from a Donovan corner kick off the goal line in the 56th minute and Ousted deflected an open Keane shot off the crossbar in second-half stoppage.
Vancouver’s best chance arrived in the 81st minute, when Darren Mattocks forced Jaime Penedo to make a diving stop.