Wow. What a time for Emmanuel Boateng to emphatically stop looking like a headless chicken. Demar Phillips - RSL's left back - is going to have nightmares for weeks to come about watching Boateng's back as he races away from him. Boateng was ruthless, using his speed and clinical finishing to put the LA Galaxy up by two in a fast paced and glorious first half for the home side.
Not only that, Giovani Dos Santos was bright and frisky with some creativity thrown in, Landon Donovan looked like he was tactically in control of the pitch, and of all people - ALAN GORDON - left the game with a goal and two assists.
Bruce Arena got the line-up so very right, and the players said thank you. Can this team play again on Sunday? Because they were a joy to watch for 45 minutes. The second half got more lethargic with LA protecting the lead and inviting RSL to make mistakes, but they put themselves into that position in the first place.
Emmanuel Boateng: Two individual goals of absolute beauty. He dribbled through not one, but FIVE RSL defenders for his first, bodying off Phillips on his way to goal. His second was an absolutely gorgeous finish after once again leaving Phillips in the dust. The lone negative was his "tackle" going awry, giving Morales and RSL a (very soft) penalty, but he more than made up for it. Primo night for the youngster, and should give him great confidence going into the games against Colorado. Man of the Match.
Landon Donovan: Orchestrated LA's play for much of the first half, and dictated the tempo through midfield. He was central to tiki taco passing in 2014, and his ability to one touch passes onward kept the game fluid and moving - critical when Boateng is rolling at 200mph relative to the rest of RSL's squad. Landon's set pieces were also once again dangerous, and he had limited giveaways. He tired in the second half, but by that point the game was over. He was everywhere in the first 45 minutes, and his defensive workrate lasted until the very end. Oh, and he now owns the MLS record for playoff assists. Of course he does.
Alan Gordon: 1 goal, 2 assists. His ability to hold up the ball was also essential to the Galaxy's first half dominance. He could have had another goal with a header that flashed just wide of the post. One of the best games we've seen him play in an LA jersey.
Jelle Van Damme: 20+ defensive actions. Didn't matter what Steres did, he was a one man wall. He's going to continue to want to run up the pitch, and I'm just going to have to clutch my Pepto and chug.
Giovani Dos Santos: At some point the team is going to have to address why he's so much better when Keane isn't on the pitch. Donovan's unselfish play supports Dos Santos' need to drive forward and provides coverage. They are already connecting well, hoping it continues. Most key passes of the team with three, and an assist on a flick-on header.
Brian Rowe: Decent in the box, didn't make any major brain farts. Nearly had a disaster at the end of the game when the team couldn't clear a ball, and he sometimes looked reticent to come out of his area. But wasn't tested too much. Nothing he could do against Plata's well taken penalty.
Daniel Steres: I've pretty much got nothing to say. Which for Steres - job well done.
Baggio Husidic: Roamed the middle of the pitch, did his job, and only had three missed passes. Good day at the office.
Sebastian Lletget: Inventive in the middle of the park (where he should remain), and key to several passing sequences. Still didn't quite put in the right final ball in a few situations, and held onto the ball a tad too long. Needs to be quicker and more aggressive in passing to his teammates. That said, his ability to keep things moving forward had RSL on their heels all night. He and Husidic seem to have a nice rapport going.
Robbie Rogers: Rogers did have a critical block towards the end of the game, turning his back on a shot headed at goal and having it rebound off of him. He also didn't let much get by him, putting in a solid defensive performance. But he also muffed two very good looking counters with wide open players and a several man advantage. He just can't pull the trigger at the top of the box and at some point he's got to trust himself to play the dang ball rather than keeping it and putting in a meek cross that goes straight to the defense.
Ashley Cole: Stripped a few times in bad places, and also couldn't provide much offensively from the left.
Robbie Keane: Rusty. Sooooooooo rusty. Was lucky not to be punished on a bad turnover off of his first touch. Hate to say it, but if he's still rusty, he shouldn't be starting on Sunday.
Mike Magee and Jeff Larentowicz did their jobs protecting the lead and burning time.