Skip to content

Landon Donovan goal, assist lead LA Galaxy past Sporting KC

Apr 21, 2013, 1:29 AM EDT

2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 3

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game this weekend.

  2. Americans Abroad Preview: Howard faces Chelsea, many Yanks on the road

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Everton v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    The club season is in full swing, and there are plenty of American faces looking for three points this weekend.

  3. Men in Blazers video: Men in Blazers breakdown Everton-Chelsea

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 10.07.01 AM

    Who fears the match more: a Chelsea man bemoaning the last few visits to Goodison Park or an Everton fan wearing a ‘Not in the face’ button?

  4. Mourinho on Torres: “Our squad is closed”; Costa doubtful for weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Will Fernando Torres be leaving Stamford Bridge, and are Diego Costa’s injury concerns far less than first reported? Ask The Special One.

  5. Premier League Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Regardless of whether Di Maria plays, it’s hard to imagine Manchester United doesn’t wake up and use its desperation as an advantage.

  6. Europa League group draw: Everton, Spurs face stiff tests

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

    Italy Soccer Europa League Final AP

    Can the Toffees emerge from a very difficult group headlined by Lille? Will Spurs triumph over Besiktas and Partizan?

  7. PST Extra: Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:42 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.34.13 AM

    Joe Prince-Wright, Mike Prindiville and Jenna Corrado dig into the transfers of Angel Di Maria and Mario Balotelli to the Premier League.

  8. MLS Weekend Preview: Derbies close weekend kicking off off at Sporting Park

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:42 AM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Montreal Impact Getty Images

    NBCSN games on Friday, Sunday highlight a nine-match weekend in the domestic league.

  9. Leicester City lands coup with Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    esteban_cambiasso Getty Images

    The Nerazzurri icon moves to the East Midlands after 10 years at the San Siro.

  10. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Portland’s Norberto Paparatto receives one-game suspension from MLS

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    norberto_paparatto AP

    An arm to the back of Chad Marshall’s head earns the Timber’s center back a weekend off.

  11. Kei Kamara returning the MLS? Regardless, his time’s done at Middlesbrough

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Kamara head shot

    Columbus, Sporting, Vancouver connected with a possible return.

  12. Lessons from 2010 say U.S. squad as much about opportunity, circumstances as youth

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    jurgen_klinsmann

    In 2010, a series of young Americans looked prime for breakthroughs. Their experience reminds up: Four years is a long way off.

  13. Premier League Power Rankings: Familiar faces jostle for the top spot – Week 1

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Nacer Chadli AP

    Our first Power Rankings of the 2014-15 season. What do you think?

  14. U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Rubin Rubin

    Rubio Rubin, Joe Gyau, and Emerson Hyndman are among the roster’s most-intriguing prospects for 2018.

  15. VIDEO: PST Extra – Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Jenna, JPW and Prindi break down Di Maria to United, Balotelli to Liverpool and Chelsea’s tough trip to Everton.

  16. Who is Jordan Morris? College player gets US national team call up for friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Source: Pac -12 Source: Pac -12

    A striker from Stanford could become the first collegian in the MLS era to play for the USA. Who is he?

  17. Report: Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid battling to sign Radamel Falcao on loan

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    Four top teams in the hunt for Falcao. Will they cough up the cash for a loan deal?

  18. Plenty of surprises in US national team roster for Czech Republic friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Klinsmann selects Stanford forward, several American youngsters based in Europe for Czech Republic clash.

  19. Analysis: Arsenal, Manchester City handed tough Champions League draw

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-BORUSSIA-DORTMUND-ARSENAL Getty Images

    Can Arsenal and Man City navigate tough UCL groups, again?

  20. Cristiano Ronaldo wins UEFA’s ‘best player in Europe’ award

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

    Portugal Soccer Champions League Final AP

    Ronaldo named ‘best player in Europe’ for outstanding 2013-14 season.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals