Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire: 6 Things We Learned
How do you shake off a poor week of results? Simple. As Al Davis would say, "Just win, baby." Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy did just that, shutting out Frank Klopas's Chicago Fire, 2-0, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
With the victory, the Galaxy improve to 7-10-2 (23 points) and are back in the MLS Western Conference playoff race as they begin a grueling road stretch. The Fire drop to 8-6-4 (28 points).
Here are six things we learned from Sunday afternoon's encounter between the Galaxy and Fire.
1. No Beckham, Buddle, Gonzo or Magee Needed
A well-rounded team should be able to win games as a result of its depth. With David Beckham out due to suspension, Edson Buddle out due to injury, and both Omar Gonzalez and Mike Magee on the bench, the Los Angeles Galaxy were still able to record a shutout win, which is a rarity given how their season has been.
2. Landon Donovan's Cameo Slammed the Door Shut
Landon Donovan came into the match late with less than a half-hour to go to replace Chad Barrett. Despite a nagging right hamstring, Donovan was able to orchestrate some sequences and deliver the hammer for Robbie Keane in the 78th minute.
3. Hot Streak for Robbie Keane
Forward Robbie Keane had a great day up top for Los Angeles. In the 24th minute of play, he atoned for his first-ever penalty attempt of the season by finishing the chance with cool precision and calm, sending Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson the wrong way.
Then, in the 78th minute, Donovan's through ball to Keane made it a 1-v-1 with Johnson. The Irishman coolly slotted the ball inside the near post and celebrated in his trademark fashion to the disgust of the Fire faithful, who responded by heading for the exits.
However, Keane could have secured a hat trick in the 84th minute. He elected to chew up the clock instead, which leads to the next thing we learned...
4. Improved Defending from Los Angeles
Omar Gonzalez wasn't needed on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Fire. All that was necessary was a few stops here and there from netminder Josh Saunders (who made three key saves), and a strong effort defensively from Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, David Junior Lopes and Todd Dunivant. Even sub Bryan Gaul did an admirable job in the back, neutralizing the speed Chicago possesses.
Chicago's Dominic Oduro and Chris Rolfe were held at bay as a result of their efforts.
5. Once Again, Those Stats Don't Matter
And why do those stats never matter on Sunday? It's because the Galaxy played like Chelsea. Again.
Los Angeles conceded more possession (60.1 percent to 39.9 percent), a better passing accuracy (78 percent to 71 percent), more duels won (55 percent to 44 percent) and more attempts on goal (14 to 13), and still won the game.
Need I say more? That leads us to the last thing we learned...
6. Los Angeles Is Back in the Playoff Chase
The Galaxy still have a losing record at 7-10-2, but are currently fifth in the MLS Western Conference. If the Galaxy can record a string of positive results on the road, their season may yet be saved.
Up next for the Galaxy is a match with the Portland Timbers on July 14 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. PDT/11 p.m. EDT and will be televised by NBC Sports.