May 2011: Galaxy surge ahead as Red Bulls stumble

The Los Angeles Galaxy and Landon Donovan made major strides this week to prove they are the best in MLS as the Galaxy widened their gap at the top of the standings and Donovan moved into the league scoring lead. L.A. fought through the inevitable letdown following its home draw with the New York Red Bulls by garnering a 1-1 midweek tie in Philadelphia and blasting Sporting Kansas City, 4-1, at home over the weekend. Donovan scored Los Angeles' lone goal against the Union and struck twice against KC to up his consecutive run of Galaxy goals to seven before Juan Pablo Angel and David Beckham each netted.

“It's always fun to score," Donovan said. "It's always fun to play well, to pass well. You can either spend the energy defending or chasing or you can spend the energy with the ball. It's always more fun with the ball, and the majority of the night we did that."

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Former Leverkusen and FC Bayern striker Landon Donovan moved into the league scoring lead. Los Angeles defeated Kansas 4-1. (Photo: GettyImages)


The goal for Angel was his second after going seven games without a strike since he last netted on March 26 while Beckham’s trademark free kick goal was his first of the season. The mercurial English midfielder sat out the midweek trip to Philadelphia because coach Bruce Arena wanted his star player to catch up on his rest.

"When players are out of the team, it's important that players come in to the team and play well and perform and show we have a great strength to our squad.” Beckham said. "I think we did that during the week. So if the manager decides I need rest during the season, if he can do that, I'm sure he will with not just me but other players as well."

Kansas City has not won since its season opener on March 19, losing five of six on its 10-game road trip to start the season as its waits for the opening of its new stadium on June 9.

Red Bulls too sloopy

Whether or not they were drained by the L.A. showdown followed by a midweek friendly against Montreal, the Red Bulls were second-best much of the game and deservedly lost at home, 3-2, to Chivas USA on Sunday. Coach Hans Backe blamed poor defending on set plays, during which they conceded two goals, but they weren’t all that tough during the run of play, either. They still lead the East, which isn’t saying much, since they’d be tied for fourth in the West.

"Absolutely too sloppy," Backe said. "Overall, it's an effort that doesn't win any games in this league. You have to work much, much harder."


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On the positive side, Thierry Henry scored his fifth goal in the last five games after going without a strike in the first four games of the season.  Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario scored his first goal since transferring to New York last month, but it was the defense that surrendered just three goals in their previous eight games this season that allowed a hat trick from Justin Braun, who gave Chivas the lead three separate times, to earn MLS Player-of-the –Week honors.

The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak for the Red Bulls, though they stayed one point ahead of Philadelphia at the top of the Eastern Conference. Chivas, on the other hand, has won three of their last four after going without a win in their first five games of 2011.

 

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Justin Braun wins the battle with Tim Ream, beat Red Bull New York with Chivas and earned the MLS “Player of the Week” honours. (Photo: GettyImages)

Dallasposts two wins to move past Real Salt Lake

Back-to-back shutout wins at home propelled FC Dallas into second place in the West. After a 1-0 midweek win over Toronto FC and a 2-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, FCD is unbeaten over the last five games, winning four and allowing only two goals over that stretch.
Philadelphia had a chance to take over first place in the Eastern Conference and entered the match having conceded just four goals all season. However, the Union also produced a mere six goals, the fewest in the league and are now winless in three games.


Real Salt Lake slipped to third in the tables following a 0-0 home tie with the Houston Dynamo. The loss of Argentine midfielder Javier Morales has surely affected the RSL attack and a total of two goals scored in the past four games is cause for concern. However the league’s best defense continues its incredible work rate with a microscopic two goals allowed so far this year.
San Jose's big win over Columbus moved it off the bottom of the standings. The Crew were riding a seven-game unbeaten streak, yet had only scored eight goals this season and a letdown seemed imminent, but the 3-0 thumping by the Earthquakes had to be a shock. The win capped a four-point week for San Jose, which came home from Vancouver with a 1-1 midweek tie. 

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Julius James of Columbus Crew (no 26) in a tackle with Steven Lenhart of San Jose Earthquakes. The Earthquakes won 3-0 and moved up from the bottom of the tables. (Photo: GettyImages)


By tying D.C. United, 1-1, in Washington, Colorado came through a three-game road swing with five points and should continue their move up the table with three of the next four at home. After missing those away games through injury, the return of former Bundesliga import Conor Casey, who played in Germany for Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96, Karlsruher SC and Mainz 05, should also help the defending Champions make a run toward the top of the standings.

In other MLS weekend action, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Northwestern rivalry, the New England Revolution beat Vancouver 1-0 at home and Toronto FC couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead and settled for a 2-2 tie with Chicago. It was the fourth straight tie that dropped the Fire further down the standings, just four points above last place Kansas City, who have played two fewer games.