Landon Bridge Is Falling Down: LA Galaxy 4-1 Philadelphia Union

Harry How

The good news is all anyone will talk about from this game is Landon Donovan. The bad news is the Union are to thank for the good news.

It started poorly, and somehow got worse. The Philadelphia Union fell behind 1-0 in the second minute with a Leonardo goal and LA Galaxy never looked back as they cruised to a 4-1 win Sunday night at StubHub Center. Oh, and Landon Donovan broke the all-time MLS goals record en route to a brace. Yeah, that happened.

Leonardo's 2nd minute goal came off of all things a Donovan free kick. Donovan lobbed the ball into the box from over 30 yards out and an unmarked Leonardo was able to direct the ball past a flat-footed Zac MacMath who probably would have been best off attacking the free kick lob from the outset. Alas he did not, and the Union paid dearly for his error.

From then on in the first half possession stats indicate the teams were near equal but the reality was far from it. The Galaxy had the lion's share of chances throughout the first half and the entire match. The Union rarely at any point mounted a credible threat toward Jaime Penedo and deservedly trailed 1-0 going into the locker room.

Then in the second half the floodgates opened up, and it began with history. In the 49th minute, Robbie Keane in the box cut the ball back to Donovan who was streaking into the box unmarked. Donovan received the ball and slotted it past a helpless MacMath to end all shred of doubt in the game. The goal was Donovan's 135th goal, breaking the record for most goals in MLS history.

The barrage would not end there, though. While the Union were unable to mount any sort of offense with Danny Cruz and Antoine Hoppenot up top (and later Conor Casey and Andrew Wenger), the Galaxy continued to have no trouble scoring. An embarrassing Sheanon Williams giveaway led to Robbie Keane one-on-one with MacMath and Keane simply slotted it directly through MacMath's legs to cap off the humiliating goal making it 3-0 LA in the 64th minute. Hilariously, one minute later, a bad Casey pass gave Keane another breakaway against MacMath, but this time MacMath helped force Keane to chip it wide.

In the 81st minute, the Galaxy struck yet again. A poor MacMath distribution turned the ball over to LA and following a series of boxes, Donovan got the ball on his left foot alone in the box and with Amobi Okugo's momentum taking him too far past Donovan, Donovan put the ball in the net for his second goal as MacMath could only bury his head in the StubHub Center grass.

Donovan's brace appeared to send a message to Klinsmann in the minds of some, but ultimately it does little for his World Cup aspirations. Jurgen Klinsmann left Donovan off the roster for a reason. That reason, of course being, through age and decline of speed and fitness Donovan failed to earn his spot. Despite the brace he ended up with Donovan was noticeably slow throughout the match and while he was able to find holes and pick apart a sordid Union defense starting a defensively inept left back and a right back out of position in central defense, the competition will be much greater against Ghana, Germany, and Portugal. And sadly for Donovan, his diminishing skill set will leave him significantly vulnerable on the pitch against those far superior teams.

But enough about Donovan for now. The Union were able to avoid a shutout when 75th minute substitute Zach Pfeffer* drew a penalty on Raul Mendiola. Mendiola appeared incredulous, but penalty was the correct call and Maurice Edu successfully converted the feel-not-quite-as-bad 88th minute consolation.

*The LA Galaxy announcers pronounced Zach Pfeffer's last name as if he was a relative of Michelle Pfeiffer. This happened many many times. No one bothered to correct them.

Following a stoppage time session with little action of note, the whistle blew and the Union were buried with a 4-1 defeat. The Union will remain in southern California for the week as they are back in StubHub Center this coming Saturday, only this time they will be playing against Chivas USA and rock bottom.

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