LA Galaxy 5, New York City FC 1 | MLS Match Recap
CARSON, Calif. -- The Steven Gerrard-Frank Lampard meeting fizzled out, but the five other superstars offered plenty to please a sellout crowd at StubHub Center in Major League Soccer's first marquee matchup of world-class Designated Players on Sunday afternoon.
An ailing Lampard was a no-go for New York City FC, and David Villa and Andrea Pirlo were outshined by the LA Galaxy's big names – Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Giovani Dos Santos – as the home side romped to a 5-1 triumph to surge to the top spot in the Supporters' Shield standings, a point ahead of Western Conference rivals Vancouver and two in front of Eastern leaders D.C. United.
Keane scored two goals with two assists, and Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget added strikes as LA (13-7-7) netted five goals for the seventh time in nine competitive home games over a little more than two months – four times in six MLS games – to become the first MLS team to hit the net 1,000 times since the league began play in 1996.
Keane's goals gave him 15, even with Villa, who converted a late penalty kick for NYCFC (7-12-7). He's scored 19 in his last 15 games of any stripe and 12, with four multigoal games, in his last seven league outings.
Bruce Arena notched his 112th victory as Galaxy head coach, tying the single-team record held by former New England coach Steve Nicol and San Jose boss Dominic Kinnear while he was in charge at Houston.
Lampard, still dealing with a quadriceps injury sustained a week and a half earlier in training, didn't make NYCFC's 18-man game roster for the third successive game, but a club spokesman said he'd likely be ready, barring any setbacks, when they play at home Saturday against Columbus.
NYCFC made just one change from their draw Wednesday at Columbus, with Shay Facey returning to central defense from a yellow card-accumulation suspension and Jefferson Mena back on the bench. The Galaxy used the same lineup for the third successive game after playing different XIs in each of their first 25 matches.
NYCFC had a lot of the ball and threatened several times in the first 25 minutes, with the Pirlo-to-Villa pipeline causing LA's backline some concern. The New Yorkers could have done more with their chances – only Villa's 14th-minute blast from the left edge of the Galaxy box, knocked down by Donovan Ricketts, caused the home side much concern – and credit to A.J. DeLaGarza (against Kwadwo Poku) and Leonardo (on Villa) for big defensive plays in the box.
The Galaxy better defended the channels as the half went on, limiting Pirlo's effectiveness, and took charge about midway through the first 45, creating seven outstanding opportunities -- and wasting six of them.
Keane hit the underside of the crossbar in the 27th minute after Josh Saunders, superb in the first half, leapt to deny a Lletget cross for Omar Gonzalez at the left post; Lletget was offside when he scored on a tap-in after Angelino blocked a DeLaGarza header two minutes later; and Saunders parried a Dos Santos blast over the crossbar three minutes after that.
Zardes provided the lead in the 36th minute, after Villa was whistled for fouling Juninho as they battled for an aerial ball about 15 yards inside NYCFC territory. Juninho played a quick free kick ahead to Keane, unmarked near the top of the box, and Keane quickly crossed to the middle of the box, where Zardes, virtually alone, headed home from about 8 yards.
Thomas McNamara nearly equalized two minutes later for NYCFC, but he fired over the crossbar from 9 yards after a short feed from Poku.
LA came close three more times before the break. Keane's redirection of a Dos Santos feed after a long DeLaGarza run was cleared by Facey at the left post in the 40th, Jason Hernandez blocked Dos Santos' shot after Saunders jumped forward to parry a low Robbie Rogers cross in the 41st, and Keane couldn't get enough of the ball after Zardes headed a Ricketts free kick into the NYCFC box.
Keane made it 2-0 nine minutes into the second half, chipping past Saunders after Dos Santos' ball from the right flank sent him into the box alone, and the Irishman returned the favor 13 minutes later, taking a pass from Zardes and playing Dos Santos through for a one-on-one chip over Saunders.
Lletget netted his seventh goal of the year three minutes later, first-timing Gerrard's feed into the goalmouth, and Keane had an opportunity on another counter shortly afterward, firing high and wide while aiming for the upper-right corner.
The Galaxy play Friday at San Jose.