Landon Donovan recorded his first playoff hat trick and assisted on a fourth goal as the Los Angeles Galaxy routed Real Salt Lake, 5-0, in the decisive second game of a Major League Soccer Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy won the two-game total goals series, 5-0, to advance to the Western Conference final against the winner of the Seattle Sounders FC-FC Dallas semifinal, which will conclude Monday.
The victory extends Donovan’s career by at least two games. The Galaxy midfielder, who is the MLS career leader in goals and assists in both the playoffs and regular season, announced Aug. 7 that he would retire at the conclusion of the season.
“Our energy early set the tone,” Donovan said. “For a majority in the first half in Salt Lake, they were really camped in their own end so we expected that they would come out and be pretty conservative here and they were.
We did a lot of work this week on breaking down the team with those 10 guys behind the ball. I thought our spacing was really good, our movement was excellent, our possession passing was excellent and then our final pass was really good.”
Donovan “was on another level,” Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran said.
“He is an incredible player and he had so much desire tonight,” Beltran said. “He is class. He is going to finish his chances. He is going to punish you and that is what he did.”
Donovan opened the scoring in the 10th minute, heading in a cross from A.J. DeLaGarza in front of a capacity crowd of 27,000. Marcelo Sarvas was also credited with an assist.
The goal ended a 412-minute scoreless streak for Real Salt Lake, including a 0-0 tie in the series opener Nov. 1 at Sandy, Utah.
The Galaxy increased their lead to 2-0 10 minutes later when Donovan fielded a through ball from Juninho who sent a cross to a sliding Robbie Keane, who deflected the ball into the net.
Donovan outraced Beltran to collect a pass from Keane, then drove past goalkeeper Nick Rimando and put a shot into the net in the 54th minute for his second goal.
Sarvas put a shot from about 12 yards past an on-rushing Rimando in the 63rd minute. Keane and Robbie Rogers received assists.
Donovan ran past the defense to take a pass from Keane and put a shot from the penalty spot past Rimando.
Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo needed to make only one save for the shutout.
The Galaxy led 19-4 in shots and 8-1 in shots on goal.
“We didn’t play our game,” said Rimando, a former UCLA and Montclair High School standout who made three saves. “They were all over us. We were launching balls in their half. We were not the disciplined team that we are. We were not organized. It was a tough game for us and if you are not disciplined and organized against a team like this they are going to punish you and that is what they did.”