Landon Donovan returned from his sabbatical weeks ago, but it wasn't until Saturday night that he rediscovered his breathtaking form. Unsurprisingly, with their star back at his best, the LA Galaxy also flashed their MLS Cup winning form, defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 in a match that exposed the gulf between the two teams.
Sporting has been one of the league's better teams for more than two years now, but for all of their promise and all of the points they rack up throughout each summer, they have yet to take the step into MLS's elite.
Despite being undefeated in five straight and sporting the fifth-longest shutout streak in MLS history, Kansas City could keep up with LA. That Sporting played on Wednesday night, clear across the country in New York didn't help, but those are the obstacles the Galaxy have dealt with in the past.
After a frantic start, KC began to slow a bit and the match turned LA's way. Jack McBean had a chance early on and had he not taken one, two or 19 touches too many, the Galaxy would have led early, but Donovan made sure the home side got the lead they deserved when he led the LA counterattack down the left, put Aurelien Collin on his heels then crossed for Marcelo Sarvas to tap in to the wide open net.
Sarvas' goal was a harbinger of things to come for Sporting. They were unable to turn their possession into chances, never really getting any touches within shouting distance of goal and whenever they gave the ball away, the Galaxy were racing in the other direction on another of their patented counterattacks.
While Sporting were hitting the ball around either aimlessly or without an idea how to break the Galaxy down, LA were purposeful and dangerous every time they went forward. They were sloppy in the final third, with Robbie Keane dribbling right into Jimmy Nielsen when in alone on the goalkeeper in addition to McBeans touch happy wasted chance and several other forays forward. But the purpose, poise and organization the Galaxy played with reflected every bit the two-time defending MLS Cup champions they are. Sporting didn't even look like they were in the same stratosphere.
Donovan got on the scoresheet, this time getting to tap the ball into an open net when Keane jumped on a Sporting turnover. He quickly raced down the left before crossing for Donovan and LA was well on their way to victory, while KC were left to consider once again how to take the next step.
Injuries, departures, bad luck and fixture congestion (something Sporting will have to get used to with the CONCACAF Champions League looming this season) are what the best teams in MLS overcome. That has been no problem for LA, but Kansas City is still trying to figure that out and on Saturday, it showed.