Landon Donovan
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan (10) reacts after scoring his third goal for a hat trick against the Real Salt Lake during the second half at StubHub Center. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON – It was Landon Donovan to the rescue on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The soon to be retired icon of soccer scored a hat-trick in front of a sellout crowd at the StubHub Center and made sure his team would advance to the Western Conference Championship against either Seattle or FC Dallas.

Donovan helped get the Galaxy off to a great start as he delivered an emphatic goal in the 10th minute to give the LA Galaxy a 1-0. Lead. A.J. De La Garza sent a cross into the box, which Donovan was able to get his head on for a spectacular goal. The Galaxy would never look back from there as they scored four more goals, three of which Donovan would play a role in and the LA Galaxy defeated Real Salt Lake 5-0.

“We played well,” said LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena after the match. “We had a good week of training. Our expectations were that we were going to win this game. The final results were surprising, but I fully anticipated we would win this game.”

Robbie Keane was also excellent for the Galaxy as he had a goal of his own and three assists. Marcelo Sarvas also scored a goal for the Galaxy who are now undefeated in their last 17 matches at home. With the win, the Galaxy take another step forward in their quest to hoist the MLS Cup.

The Galaxy got their second goal in the 20th minute thanks to another spectacular play by Donovan. After a questionable no call on a handball in the box, Donovan streaked down the left hand side and delivered a legendary cross to Keane who was wide open in front of the net. The dynamic duo of Donovan and Keane quickly had the Galaxy out to a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Brazilian defender, Leonardo was carted off the pitch in the 36th minute with an apparent right knee injury. Leonardo collapsed on the pitch after clearing the ball and could be seen writing in pain as he immediately called for medical attention. Tommy Meyer replaced him on the pitch.

“This is a playoff game. This game matters. It’s do or die. I see him everyday at practice and there was no doubt in my mind he was going to come on and play well,” said teammate Omar Gonzalez of Meyer.

Donovan did it again in the second half as he took a pass from Keane down the right hand side, beat the Real Salt Lake Defender and a charging Nick Rimando for the goal.

Jamie Penedo was stellar in net for the Galaxy as the LA goalkeeper made an amazing save diving to his right to deny Real captain, Kyle Beckerman, from getting RSL on the board and shifting the momentum.

Donovan and Beckerman
Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy gets the ball past Kyle Beckerman #5 of Real Salt Lake in Leg 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at StubHub Center on November 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Galaxy won 5-0 to advance to the conference finals. Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

Donovan capped the evening off with his third and final goal in the 72nd minute, giving the legendary #10 a hat trick. Donovan pounded his chest as the hometown crowd roared in excitement. They would get to see their hero at least one more time.

“The reality was I could have been standing here and this was my last game ever,” said an excited Donovan after the game. “There’s a lot of things out of my control tonight. The one thing in my control was how I played. I wanted to make sure that when I went home and looked in the mirror, I knew I gave everything regardless of the result.”

Donovan left the pitch in the 82nd minute to a standing ovation to the crowd. As Donovan came off the field, the crowd chanted “One more year!” in hopes that their hero and the most decorated figure in U.S. Soccer history would forgo his retirement and suit up again next season.

Game Notes:
Landon Donovan extended his MLS record to 25 career playoff goals. Donovan also became the only player in MLS history to have five multi-goal playoff games, and becomes third ever MLS player to record a hat trick in a playoff game. The LA Galaxy finally got the proverbial monkey off their back as Real Salt Lake has eliminated the Galaxy from the post-season the past two years. The 5-0 result was the most lopsided result in RSL’s history and they have never given up more than four goals in a playoff game. With the win, the Galaxy are now undefeated in 17 consecutive matches at home.

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