The LA Galaxy did two positive things to beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Saturday night, both of which have been lacking in recent memory. Everyone remained laser focused for ninety minutes, keeping San Jose from getting opportunities. The match also featured a great example of a team goal, with multiple players showing soccer awareness to get the ball in the back of the net.
"We talked over the last three days about concentrating for 90 minutes," said Landon Donovan. "We've played well through a lot of stretches in a lot of games, but we've let our concentration go. Tonight, everyone was tuned in. When one guy couldn't make the play, the next guy made it. I thought we were excellent tonight."
LA this season has been a great first half team, only going into halftime trailing once. They've only given up three first half goals all season, but then have gone on to give up eight goals after the 61 minute. The last half hour of matches has seen players switch off and lose concentration, letting several teams off the hook.
San Jose attempted thirteen shots against the Galaxy, only one of them in the dying minutes of the match was on target. When Steven Lenhart went up in the penalty area, there was always a defender jostling him enough that the shot was well off target. The SJ shot chart is full of shots well wide of the goal, or directed on target but blocked.
Gyasi Zardes' goal was a great moment as well, with Robbie Keane sending a perfect ball into the penalty area that Marcelo Sarvas showed the awareness to bring down.
"If Barcelona scored a goal like that," said Donovan, "people would be talking about it for weeks. It was a good sequence: it was a great ball by Robbie, great run by Marcelo and Gyasi peeled off with a great run and a finish, so I think it was as good a team goal as you'll seen in this league."
It's goals like that which justify MLS keeping track of hockey assists, as Keane's ball in made the entire sequence happen. Sarvas timed his run perfectly then left the space open which Zardes was able to exploit. Everyone working together created the great goal.
Positive signs for the Galaxy moving forward.