Surging Galaxy shows star power

Between the recent offensive surge by the Galaxy and the defensive stability Chivas USA has found, something had to give Saturday night.

With a relentless attack and sparkling play by its veterans, the Galaxy proved too much for Chivas as L.A. recorded a 3-1 victory at the Home Depot Center.

The match presented an opportunity for both sides, with Chivas trying to prove itself as a contender in the Western Conference playoff race. For the Galaxy, winning the rivalry game meant increasing the gap between the sides, as L.A. entered the contest ahead of Chivas for the fifth and final playoff berth in the conference.

With the victory in front of a near-capacity crowd of 25,180, the Galaxy (9-10-3) improved to 6-2-1 since the start of June and continued to show signs of finding the success that led to the 2011 MLS Cup.

“It was a good win for our team,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said after Landon Donovan scored twice. “I thought we played well from start to finish.

“We got a little sloppy in the second half, but we could’ve scored a number of more goals.”

The Galaxy responded to Arena’s plea for improved play at the start of games, as the squad has dug itself a hole too often in the early minutes.

Midfielder David Beckham found forward Robbie Keane just in front of the box, Keane slipped past the defense, goaltender Dan Kennedy committed and Keane found the empty net to give L.A. a 1-0 advantage in the 14th minute.

Arena said the Keane-Beckham and Keane-Donovan tandems are responsible for much of the team’s success during the last six weeks. Beckham’s assist was his fourth to go along with three goals in his last three games.

Six minutes later, it looked as if lightning had struck twice when Keane again evaded the Chivas defense to find the open net, but the goal was called off because of a controversial offsides.

“It’s obviously not good officiating,” said Arena, who was fined by MLS earlier this month for criticizing officiating.

“It’s a huge play in the game and it keeps them hanging around a bit.”

In the 48th minute, the Galaxy found the net again to take a 2-0 lead, but this time it was Keane’s turn to find Donovan, who scored from the left side of the box. He added another goal, the 200th in his professional career, in the 78th minute from close range, to put Chivas away for good.

For Chivas (6-8-5), the offensive issues that have plagued the sixth-place squad for so much of the season persisted. Its lone goal came in the 52nd minute when midfielder Paolo Cardozo notched his first career MLS goal from the middle of the box.

Cardozo played in 18 games for the Galaxy in 2011 and 2012 before he was traded to Chivas in April.