LA Galaxy 5-1 New York City FC
I'm going to call this game the MLS Retirement Home Cup from now until both teams stop bringing in aging Europeans (or Mexicans to account for Giovani dos Santos). Although Frank Lampard wasn't in New York City's 18 this afternoon, they still trotted David Villa and Andrea Pirlo out there against LA's dos Santos, Robbie Keane, and Steven Gerrard.
The first half hour or so of this game was a fairly good reminder of how far MLS has to go in order to catch up to the rest of the world's domestic leagues. There was sloppy defending by both sides. The best example was when Josh Saunders went to take a goal kick and made it look like he was only nine years old. The unaware NYC defender let it bumble off his feet right to Gyasi Zardes, who prompted to mismanage the three on one break that LA were gifted. NYC was defending like pylons and getting away with it because LA was shooting like they were drunk.
Later in the first half, LA's finishing remained a problem. Just before the half hour mark, Robbie Keane drilled a shot off the underside of the crossbar and nobody was able to bury the rebound. A couple minutes after that, Giovani dos Santos couldn't bury one in an open net. Several chances off the rebound resulted in the ball going in off a very offside Sebastian Lletget.
Galaxy finally found some sobriety amongst City's absentee defending in the 36th minute. City turned the ball over in their own half once again and Robbie Keane was there to collect. He played a great ball forward to Gyasi Zardes who headed home the game's first goal.
LA had more time to sober up after the halftime whistle.
In the 54th minute, Robbie Keane was able to blow by the New York City back line for a tap in past Josh Saunders. Dos Santos chipped home the third on a 2 on 1 breakaway after blowing past another display of flat footed defending. Sebastian Lletget just before the 70 minute mark to make sure this one was beyond over.
To make sure they didn't go home empty handed, Patrick Mullins managed to draw a penalty against Dan Gargan in the 79th minute. David Villa stepped to the spot and confidently nailed the kick. Not that it was even close to enough to make New York City feel good about their trip to Southern California. Because LA didn't want New York to leave with any shred of hope, Robbie Keane grabbed hisbrace a minute after that penalty. In case you lost count, that was Keane's 12th goal in seven matches. It was also Galaxy's 1,000th goal in MLS. They are the first MLS club to hit that milestone.
To be perfectly honest, New York City was so bad today that they are lucky they didn't concede ten or more goals. The sad part is, they are still in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. For them to make the playoffs however, they really need to start playing a little bit of defense. They clearly didn't today. It wouldn't hurt if they got a little more heart out of their big name designated players, too. Pirlo has been pretty lazy since shipping in from Italy. Lampard has barely even been on the field since coming in from Manchester City. Villa has been playing down to the level of his peers. The only non-big name who has had an impact on their team of late is Kwadwo Poku, who is quickly looking like the next big thing in MLS. For now, New York City will slink on back to the east coast still mired in seventh place and outside the East playoff picture.
LA will take the easy three points and leapfrog Vancouver into the Wester Conference and Supporters' Shield lead, although the Whitecaps have a game in hand over them. They seem to have everything going at just the right time. Robbie Keane is unstoppable. Giovani dos Santos is adjusting very well to the MLS atmosphere. They still have Gyasi Zardes and Steven Gerrard behind those two. Watch out for this team in the playoffs. They certainly look like repeating as champions.