The Galaxy's Christian Wilhelmsson celebrates his goal in the second… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
The Galaxy has been the best team in Major League Soccer over the last two months.
On Friday it got better, adding Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson. And Wilhelmsson needed little more than a half to make his presence felt, scoring his first MLS goal in the 58th minute of a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids before an announced crowd of 20,204 at the Home Depot Center.
Robbie Keane got the other goal, scoring in the opening half.
Then in what has become a familiar pattern, the Galaxy turned the game over its defense, which posted its third consecutive shutout and fourth in five games — thanks in large part to midfielder Marcelo Sarvas' sliding save of Conor Casey's shot at an open net in the 79th minute.
If you think you've seen this before, you have. Mixing just enough offense with way too much defense was the formula the Galaxy followed to an MLS Cup win last season. The difference now is Wilhelmsson, a veteran of one World Cup and three European Championships, who puts even more weapons at the Galaxy's disposal.
"He played well," said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, who pulled Wilhelmsson three minutes after he scored. "Obviously, the goal was an important goal. Probably not the best goal of his career, but we're going to take it as an important goal for our team.
"He's going to be a good addition to the team. He's a player who's certainly going to help us in the stretch run."
Wilhelmsson, starting on the right wing in place of the injured David Beckham, had an active first half, though his only shot missed high and wide to the right. He didn't miss on his second one, taking a through ball from Sarvas and making a long run up the middle of the field before spinning away from Colorado defenders Luis Zapata and Marvell Wynne and bouncing a left-footed shot from just outside the box off Rapids keeper Matt Pickens and into the net.
The assist for Sarvas was the second of his brief MLS career — the other coming in the first half at the start of a nice sequence that ended with Keane scoring his team-high 12th goal of the season.
The play started with Sarvas threading a short pass through a pair of defenders toward Keane, who was dashing up the center of the field. But Keane purposely ran by the ball, leaving it for Landon Donovan to play forward to his wide-open teammate deep in the box. Keane finished it off with a left-footed shot into the corner, giving him a goal or assist in seven of his last eight games.
With the win, the streaking Galaxy, who started June last in the Western Conference, moved into a third-place tie with Real Salt Lake, a point behind second-place Seattle. The victory also ran the team's unbeaten streak to five games, matching a season high.