A double by Robbie Keane gave an away victory (0-2) to LA Galaxy at Toyota Park. They faced Chicago Fire who completed a second game without a win as they drew the previous game after a run of consecutive wins. On the other hand, the californian team put a stop to their run of losses with a sound victory.
Chicago started the game with a 1-4-2-3-1 formation, with Oduro acting as a centre forward, Rolfe between the lines and Nyardo and Pappa in the wings, constantly exchanging positions during the game. In attack Pardo and Pause weren’t able to get involved in build up play as LA Galaxy played quite high, selectively pressing on Friedrich and the full backs therefore forcing Chicago to play long balls to Oduro as the only offensive alternative, with Rolfe always trying to win second balls. The locals created more danger in the right wing, with Anibaba going forward, Rolfe between the lines and also behind Dunivant along with Nyarko’s determination to go forward. However, they didn’t have too many chances to score, with just two shots off target and a header by Nyarko after a good cross delivered by Rolfe.
LA Galaxy played a 1-4-4-2 formation with the Brazilians Sarvas and Juninho as midfielders and Chris Barret alongside Robbie Keane in front. They tried to have control of the game from the beginning, pressing high and with Keane always a threat in the last third. Like Chicago, they were much more offensive on their right wing with Franklin and Jimenez more determined to go forward than Dunivan and Stephens on the left, but in the end they didn’t create clear chances to score, just some unsuccessful medium distance shots from their second line players (Juninho, Stephens and Sarvas). The only goal of the first half came in the 23rd minute when Keane scored a penalty after a clear hand ball by Anibaba.
Chicago made an offensive substitution at half time, with Alex replacing Logan Pause in midfield. The initial 1-4-2-3-1 changed into a 1-4-1-4-1, with Pavel Pardo acting as a holding midfielder, Alex with Rolfe between the lines and Nyarko and Pappa on the wings (Nyarko always sharper in attack). Chicago played more offensively after this tactical change, but their higher ball possession was played in vain as the pace was too slow and LA Galaxy were comfortably sitting back launching quick counterattacks. Alex had more presence in attack and as a consequence Pardo was faced with bigger problems in defending Galaxy’s quick transitions every time they lost the ball. In the first 15 minutes of the second half Stephens and Jimenez missed some clear chances in counter attacks always well driven by Keane. In the minutes that followed LA Galaxy made three substitutions: Jordan for Jimenez; Donovan for Barret and Gaul for Juninho (injured). Chicago later substituted Oduro for Robayo (66th minute) allowing Alex and Rolfe to play a bit higher with more presence and accuracy in the last third so they could create problems to an untested LA goalkeeper Saunders. With just 15 minutes to go, Chicago had their best chance but Saunders made a big save to Rolfe’s finishing. After the corner, Donovan regained the ball to launch a quick counter attack which was badly defended by Chicago and Keane converted into the second goal of the game.
In the last minutes of the game Chicago tried to create some chances from set pieces, but it was always LA that ended up having the best chances to score with their counter attacks. In one of them Keane could have scored the third goal but wasn’t able finish. In the end, a comfortable win for LA Galaxy, who go momentarily fifth in the West Conference table while Chicago remains in fourth position of the East Conference.