Landon Donovan sparks Galaxy’s 2-0 win over Kansas City

All eyes were on the fluorescent green shoes of Landon Donovan, and the Galaxy star made the most of his initial start at Home Depot Center this season, scoring the second goal and assisting on the first in Saturday night’s 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City.

Even before the opening kickoff the near-capacity crowd of 25,908 broke into a chant and Donovan, the third-highest scorer in Major League Soccer history, gave the fans plenty to cheer after seeming a step slow against FC Dallas one week earlier in his first MLS start. The 31-year-old midfielder missed the season’s first month recovering from an exhausting string of games with the Galaxy, English club Everton and the U.S. national team.

In the 74th minute, Donovan streaked down the right side and one-timed a pass from captain Robbie Keane into a wide-open net for his 125th career goal.

“We basically had a two-on-none breakaway and all credit to Robbie he made a great pass,” said Donovan, who started at midfield but pressed forward in the second half to create numerous scoring opportunities. “There’s no question they’re one of the top two or three teams in the league, so this was a big win for us.”

The win moved the Galaxy (3-1-2) into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 11 points, eight behind FC Dallas. Kansas City (4-2-2) leads the East with 14 points.

Donovan dribbled down the left wing, eluded a defender and made goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen commit before sliding a pass to Marcelo Sarvas, who tapped the ball across the line in the 27th minute. Sarvas set up the play by sprinting back to get a foot on Benny Feilhaber’s intended pass to Oriol Rosell in the midfield.

It was the first goal conceded by Nielsen in 545 minutes — the fifth-longest scoreless streak in MLS history and second-longest in franchise history behind a 681-minute run led by Tony Meola in 2000 when the team was called the Wizards. Kansas City had not been scored upon since the 21st minute of its 2-1 loss to Toronto on April 9.

Donovan admitted that he needed more practice after failing to convert a penalty kick for only the sixth time in 38 tries in MLS play in the second half of the loss to FC Dallas, but he looked near top form Saturday. It helped having Keane and defenders Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin back in the lineup after sitting out the FC Dallas game with injuries.

Midfielder Graham Zusi nearly gave the visitors the lead in the 19th minute, hitting the crossbar on a free kick from just outside the penalty area.