Apr 21, 2013, 1:29 AM EDT
When Sporting Kansas City came out with their typical intensity, viewers were in for an early show at Home Depot Center, last year’s first place finishers in the East intent on going toe-to-toe with MLS’s two-time defending champions. But with Sporting making no changes from the team that played in New Jersey mid-week, you also knew they were likely to get caught. Eventually they’d slow down. Eventually they’d fade. Eventually their quick turnaround would catch up with them.
And two times on Saturday, it did. In the first half, Los Angeles’s league-best counterattack was on display while halting Sporting’s scoreless streak at 546 minutes, Marcelo Sarvas easily tapping in a Landon Donovan pass sent across the six. In the second half, another counter doubled LA’s lead, with Donovan recording his first goal of the year to give the Galaxy their 2-0 win.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The final score could have been much worse. As Donovan noted post-match, the Galaxy’s early execution in the final third was lacking, players like Jack McBean one touch away from ending Kansas City’s streak much earlier. By match’s end, the Galaxy were countering at will, with one standout chance ending when Robbie Keane embarrassingly dribbled into Jimmy Nielsen, killing a one-on-one.
Although Kansas City entered the much-hyped showdown unbeaten in five, the game only highlighted the gap between the Galaxy, who again looked like the best team in the league, and Sporting, a team that’s failed to meet expectations in recent postseasons. In a game billed as a battle of powers, Kansas City were decidedly the less powerful, their early energy fading proving ultimately ineffectual.
Kansas City finished the match with only two shots on goal. According to ESPN stats guru Pete Carr, they were held to a season-low three completed crosses. In the first half, they only had three touches in the Galaxy penalty area (LA had 17). The match’s was more lopsided than its final score.
Fatigue was certainly a factor, the Galaxy on full rest while Kansas City was playing their second match in four days, but it’s not too naïve to note teams have to face a number of challenges on their way to championships. Sometimes they’re injured. Sometimes they’re fatigued. Other times it’s bad luck. Often the ability to overcome a particular hurdle is less important than the willingness to transcend any hurdle. Kansas City has yet to get to that point.
Having won two straight titles, LA’s clearly there, though on a night when Landon Donovan notched a goal and an assist, it’s worth nothing what obstacles they’ve already overcome this season. They were famously without their captain throughout the preseason, and they’ve also elected to keep their third designated player spot open until the summer, declining to immediately replace David Beckham. These aren’t the same, enormous challenges they faced last year after a slow start highlighted the absence of Omar Gonzalez, but most teams in the league would be seriously derailed after a shakeup within their top talent (look at Seattle).
After Saturday’s win, LA has 11 points in six games, good for second in the West. They also have a productive Donovan, something that wasn’t necessarily the case during his season’s first appearances. Playing in midfield while Keane and McBean started up top, Donovan was the key to LA’s decisive counterattacking, both springing the team out of their end as well as making long runs to join the attacks. Although he confessed post-match that he was tired while running onto his goal, Donovan looks to have shaken off the rust.
It was all part of one of the most convincing team performances of the season, one that should give pundits pause before filling out their weekly rankings of power. Dallas has the league’s best record, and teams like Houston and Sporting have more points, but is there really any doubt which team is Major League Soccer’s best? After Saturday, there shouldn’t be.
May 3, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
A local club in the lower leagues of Polish soccer saw a supporter killed by riot police as fans tried to storm the field.
May 3, 2015, 8:08 AM EDT
Newcastle manager John Carver laid into his players yesterday, with his red-carded defender facing the brunt of the assault.
May 3, 2015, 7:40 AM EDT
Jose Mourinho is happy knowing Chelsea are on the verge of clinching the Premier League title.
May 3, 2015, 12:45 AM EDT
The cream continues to rise to the top in Eastern Conference, while we still know next to nothing about the West.
May 2, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
The last undefeated team in MLS has fallen at the hands of the Revs, who look poised for another run to MLS Cup.
May 2, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT
D.C. United are for real. Very, very for real. The way they dominated Crew SC should put the rest of MLS on notice.
May 2, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Managers don’t usually come out this strong in hammering their own players, which really shocked The 2 Robbies.
May 2, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT
Managing a successful football team really isn’t as simple as Tim Sherwood makes it sound, but that’s why we love him.
May 2, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT
May 2, 2015 shall henceforth be known as The Day Giovinco Took MLS By Storm.
May 2, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT
For $7 million per year, Sebastian Giovinco scores goals like this.
May 2, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT
The title race is oh-so-close in Spain, while Juventus were (finally) officially crowned champions of Italy.
May 2, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT
It could all become official by around 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN.
May 2, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
Borussia Dortmund draws at Hoffenheim, while Stuttgart stays bottom of the Bundesliga table.
May 2, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Recaps, reaction, videos and more from a busy Saturday in the PL.
May 2, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT
Call it an RV-PK gone awry.
May 2, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT
Saints “not at their level” as European qualification hangs in the balance.
May 2, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT
The Newcastle United manager went off after the Magpies lost their eighth-straight match, this one a listless, poor 3-0 showing at Leicester City.
May 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Gerrard has three more games for Liverpool before he moves to LA. Could this be his final goal at Anfield?
May 2, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
The eight goals are the most Cordoba have conceded in Spain’s top flight, and the Andalusian club is set for relegation.
May 2, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Brown Ideye is among the substitutes for the Baggies, with Saido Berahino starting up top.
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- MLS Snapshot: D.C. United 2-0 Columbus Crew SC 0
- Premier League Sunday preview: Chelsea chases coronation clincher, Spurs host Man City 0
- Bundesliga wrap: Bayern’s backups fall to Bayer; Paderborn alive 0
- Premier League roundup: Big day for relegation battlers 0
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