The Galaxy had just one direction to go heading into Sunday's game with the Seattle Sounders.
The team was already in the Western Conference cellar, hadn't won in its last four tries and was missing so many regulars to injury — among them reigning league most valuable player Robbie Keane — it had to call Bradford Jamieson up from the second team just to fill out the bench.
If the Galaxy was to rise, though, it would need someone to lift it. And goalkeeper Jaime Penedo proved equal to that challenge, making a career-high 10 saves in a physical 1-0 win before a sold-out crowd at StubHub Center.
The only goal belonged to Alan Gordon, who knocked home a perfectly placed header from Omar Gonzalez in the 23rd minute for the Galaxy's first score in 290 minutes.
The game, however, belonged to Penedo.
"He did what a goalie needs to do: Step up when we need him," midfielder Baggio Husidic said. "And he did a great job.
"It's still a little bit early to say he turned the season around. But the game is a fair point. He probably had two or three very, very good saves. So that's the game right there."
Two or three good saves? Penedo had that many in the 10th minute alone, turning away back-to-back shots from Lamar Neagle and Chad Marshall.
"As a goalie, what you want going into a game is to stop the first shot," said Penedo, whose early-season struggles have mirrored that of his team with the goalkeeper sitting out two games because of medical issues and a third because of international duty with Panama.
"It gets really complicated when they score on the first shot," he said. "Those two saves gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the game."
And the rest of the game would get better for Penedo, who stopped a point-blank shot from Andy Rose in the 53rd minute that he later admitted he never saw.
"I honestly don't know how I saved that one," he said in Spanish. "It just bounced off me.
"It happened so fast. You really don't have time to think. The ball just came and I happened to be just standing there to stop it."
The Sounders came in banged up, too, missing U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey because of a hamstring strain. They still managed to keep both Penedo and Gordon busy, though, peppering the goalkeeper with shots while Gordon got pounded with knees, elbows — even a shot off his face.
But Gordon, playing in his 200th regular-season game, hurt Seattle badly the one time he was able to run free. The sequence started with Juninho sending a long cross to Gonzalez at the edge of the area that he headed back across the goal to Gordon at the far post. From there it was an easy tap-in for the only score the Galaxy would need.
"Alan Gordon was a real man today," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. "You've got to win these kinds of games. Listen, this isn't going to go down as a classic. But the fact that we were able to grind it out and get an important three points is very pleasing."