The LA Galaxy were able to shoot their way to a 2-3 victory against Real Salt Lake last night. Given that he had a brace and an assist, it should be no surprise that Landon Donovan was the game's biggest star. His Match Impact Rating was a 113.5, as you would expect for someone involved in all three goals. The first goal, which came just before the half hour mark, involved Donovan recovering a ball the Galaxy attack had lost after a poor defensive pass, and then knocking it past Nick Rimando with his left foot.
The second goal involved Donovan again collecting a loose ball, and then playing it forward for Mike Magee to smash in. The third goal came as Magee chipped the ball forward to a streaking Donovan who took on Rimando, dribbling past him a chipping in a right footed fast break effort.
Donovan and Magee were the instigators for the offense last night. Magee finished with a Match Impact Rating of 96.5. What strikes me most is that between the two of them there were 10 defensive recoveries last night. Not giving up on the ball, staying aware of where the play is, absolutely key in a match like the Galaxy played last night.
The other encouraging sign is most of this activity for Donovan and Magee happening in the middle of the pitch. After the Galaxy tried to set records for most long balls earlier in the year, it was great to see play happening through the middle on the ground. Credit for this has to go to Juninho, who's been overlooked this year as he isn't taking chances on goal as often, taking up space in the middle along with David Beckham. Between them 64 successful passes, and a ton of heat in the middle.
With the 4-5-1 churning out two positive results, hopefully Bruce Arena sticks with it. He'll have the option of going with two forwards once Robbie Keane comes back, but I don't think the Galaxy will be as successful as they've been at forcing teams out wide and having an attacking presence through the middle.
In 2010, Buddle was the target forward and he was in the best shape of his life. In 2011 the Galaxy defense made one-nil games a breeze. With multi-goal games almost a necessity for the Galaxy at this point, conservative and defensively oriented play won't produce the necessary results. The transition has to be made from grinding it out to shooting it out.
Which means someone is likely moving in the transfer window, as there may be redundancies.