Robbie Keane celebrates his goal in extra time of the first half against… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
The Galaxy hadn't even left the field after Sunday's 3-0 playoff victory over the Seattle Sounders before the PA announcer informed the sellout crowd that tickets to next month's MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center would soon go on sale.
The Galaxy has a long way to go before it can think about playing in Major League Soccer's title game, much less playing it at home. But it certainly looked like a championship team in the first game of the Western Conference final, wrapping two goals from Robbie Keane around a second-half score from Mike Magee to take a commanding lead in the series.
The two-leg playoff series, which is decided on total goals, concludes Sunday in Seattle, where the Sounders have to win by three goals just to force overtime. Anything less and the Galaxy advances to the MLS Cup for the third time in four seasons.
And the Galaxy would play host to the game for a second consecutive season if Houston, which beat D.C. United, 3-1, holds on to its two-goal lead in the Eastern Conference final.
In the Galaxy locker room, however, no one was stepping up to buy tickets just yet.
"We can't get too carried away," said Keane, whose two-goal game was his second in five days. "The job's only half done. If the lads think for one second that this is over, they may think again."
It was a sentiment echoed by captain Landon Donovan.
"This is far from over," he said. "I myself have been a part of bigger comebacks than this. So we've got a long way to go."
Still, it could be a comfortable trip if the Galaxy continues to play as it did Sunday.
Although the defending league champions dominated play in the first half, they couldn't convert that into a goal until stoppage time, when Keane beat goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with a header from close range.
The sequence started with Sean Franklin sending a pass from the right wing toward Christian Wilhelmsson, who stepped over the ball, leaving it for Donovan in the center of the penalty area. Donovan dribbled to the end line to draw Gspurning to the near post and when defender Jeff Parke slipped, Donovan looped a pass across the goal mouth to Keane for an easy goal.
For the Sounders, who shut out Real Salt Lake twice in a conference semifinal, the goal was the first they gave up in 317 postseason minutes. But it wouldn't be the last with Magee doubling the Galaxy's lead in the 64th minute before Keane put the game away three minutes later.
Franklin, who played a splendid game, set up the second score with a pass from the edge of the box to Magee, who got behind Parke and easily beat Gspurning for his sixth goal in his last eight playoff games.
Wilhelmsson helped Keane score the final goal, receiving with his chest a blocked Donovan shot at the edge of the six-yard box and sending it toward the goal for Keane to tap home.
The teams get a week off to prepare for the rematch, time Seattle will spend trying to figure out how to overcome a three-goal deficit while the hobbled Galaxy — playing for the fifth time in 15 days — will concentrate on getting healthy. Donovan (tight hamstring) and midfielder Juninho (right Achilles' tendon) were substituted out of the game in the second half and forward Edson Buddle didn't suit up.
"We're going to take a couple of days and rest. We need it," said Donovan, who walked gingerly to the locker room on a sore leg he plans to have examined Monday.