CARSON, Calif. - In a match that was hyped as one of the biggest billings in MLS history, the LA Galaxy dismantled a subpar NYCFC defense en route to a 5-1 victory before a loud raucous StubHub Center Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Galaxy climb to the top of the Western Conference and Supporters Shield standings with 46 points, while the Whitecaps are nipping at LA's heels with 45 points and a game in hand. The Galaxy have now won eight straight at the StubHub Center in all competitions, scoring 37 goals while only conceding on six occasions.
Despite LA's impressive recent form at home, it was NYCFC who had the brighter start. Early on, 23-year old rookie Kwadwo Poku raced down the center of the pitch and almost managed to fire from deep inside the Galaxy box, but AJ DeLaGarza was able to pull off a last ditch tackle. Then in the 14th minute, Donovan Ricketts had to dive low to his left to parry away a David Villa rocket.
However, the Galaxy soon began to get going, and Robbie Keane probably should have scored when Gyasi Zardes played a low rolling ball to the Irishman, but his shot deflected off a NYCFC defender.
Sebastian Lletget almost caught goalkeeper Josh Saunders off his line in the 26th minute, but the former Galaxy netminder was able to tip the shot over the bar.
Following the ensuing corner kick, Lletget crossed a floating ball that Saunders punched right into the waiting feet of Robbie Keane, but his shot from point-blank range violently smashed the underside of the crossbar before hitting the turf and bouncing away from goal.
In the 29th minute, LA thought they had finally gone ahead when Giovani dos Santos bundled home a Lletget cross, but referee Baldomero Toledo ruled the play dead.
The Galaxy kept up the pressure, and in the 32nd minute, Giovani found space inside the box, but blasted a right footed rocked directly at Saunders who saved over the bar.
Finally, the Galaxy went ahead on a hustle play. After David Villa was ruled to have fouled Gyasi Zardes, AJ DeLaGarza quickly put the ball down and passed to Robbie Keane on the wing, and with little difficulty Keane located a wide open Zardes at the near post to bury a header home.
The ever dangerous Poku almost got NYCFC back in the game when he raced down the field unmarked once again and slid a pass to Tommy MacNamura alone inside the area, but his shot was agonizingly high.
Smelling blood, the Galaxy continued their assault. In the 40th minute, dos Santos bombed in the box and found Robbie Keane, but he pulled his shot into the path of a NYCFC defender. Dos Santos probably should have scored a minute later when Josh Saunders spilled a rebound into his path, but once again a NYCFC defender was there to make a crucial block.
The second half was more Galaxy domination, and in the 54th, LA doubled their lead. With options to choose from, Giovani dos Santos passed to Robbie Keane streaking inside the box, and he looped a finish over the helpless Saunders.
NYCFC manager Jason Kreis soon subbed out Mix Diskerud and Tommy MacNamura in an effort to re-energize the attack, but with the heat a factor, the team was unable to really get anything going.
And the goals kept on coming. In the 67th minute, Giovani dos Santos had all the time in the world to chip Saunders to score once again for LA, giving the Mexican international his second MLS goal in three games. Then in the 70th minute, Sebastian Lletget finished off a brilliant sequence of passes inside the area by tapping into the net.
NYCFC pulled one back in the 80th minute when David Villa converted a penalty following a Dan Gargan foul inside the box.
A minute later however, it was all too easy for LA as Robbie Rogers streaked down the left touchline unimpeded before squaring to Keane inside the box. The goal was Keane's 16th of the season, tying him with David Villa to move up to 3rd in the Golden Boot race.
LA next travel to San Jose Friday to take on the Earthquakes.