By DAN KARELL
The Los Angeles Galaxy took another step forward in their quest to win a third consecutive MLS Cup.
A powerful Landon Donovan goal inside of three minutes put the Galaxy up for good on Saturday night, as him and new goalkeeper Jaime Penedo starred to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada. Penedo made five saves, including an incredible diving stop on Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey late in the match.
Before many fans had even settled into their seats, Donovan hit a long-range blast to give the visitors a lead. Galaxy defender AJ DeLaGarza picked up a Whitecaps turnover and played the ball forward to teammate Robbie Keane. Keane laid off the ball in Donovan’s path, and the U.S. Men’s National Team member’s left-footed strike had eyes for the back of the net.
Penedo was first called into action just ahead of the halftime break. After watching two long-range drives from the Whitecaps go wide, Nigel Reo-Coker’s storming run and shot forced a save from the Panamanian.
In the 82nd minute, the Galaxy goalkeeper used his acrobatic reflexes to make one of the saves of the year. Off a poorly cleared corner kick, Whitecaps rookie Kekuta Manneh drilled a 35-yard shot that careened off the post out in front of the goal. Penedo, who dove to try and save the shot, quickly got up and denied Harvey his one-net shot on goal, making an incredible diving save in the process.
The Whitecaps had reason to complain when in stoppage-time, Galaxy midfielder Juninho handled the ball in his own area. However the penalty appeals from the Whitecaps players fell on deaf ears, leading to the Galaxy’s crucial road victory and a move to second place in the conference table.
Here are the match highlights: