Landon Donovan scored in the third minute and the Los Angeles Galaxy held on to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 Saturday night for their fifth straight win.
Donovan got his fourth goal in the last three matches to help the Galaxy (12-9-4) secure sole possession of second place in the Western Conference.
Donovan scored after A.J. DeLaGarza's pass hit Whitecaps central defender Johnny Leveron and came to him. The Galaxy captain planted a high shot in the left corner of the net over Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.
"It helps a lot when you're on the road," Donovan said of the early goal. "It puts your team in a really good position, and even if they score a goal, you're back where you started, so it's a nice way to start a game.
"We can play a little more cautiously and just worry about defending and trying to counter — and it really played to our advantage tonight."
Donovan needs four more goals to become the all-time leading scorer in MLS history.
Los Angeles goalkeeper Jaime Penedo recorded his first MLS shutout in only his second career league appearance and third overall with the Galaxy.
"It was a grind-out road victory, one that we haven't had all year, so it was good to get one," Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena said.
The Whitecaps (10-9-6) lost their second straight overall and just their second at home this season.
"It was obviously a bad start, the worst start you could have got, with the goal so early," Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said. "That was disappointing.
"But after that, I thought that we played well. We got forward and created a number of good chances."
Usually prolific offensively at home, Vancouver struggled against Los Angeles. Whitecaps striker Camilo, who entered the game tied for the MLS scoring lead with 14 goals, began the game on the bench due to a slight groin strain sustained last weekend against Colorado, and stayed there throughout.
"So that was disappointing," Rennie said. "And, obviously, in a game like that today that was really tight, a player like Camilo is someone who could make a difference and could perhaps get us a goal."
It ended Camilo's string of 17 consecutive starts in league games dating to April 27.
Darren Mattocks, who recently returned from a knee injury that required minor surgery, started in his place. It was the Jamaican international's first start since the last meeting between the teams at Vancouver on May 11, when he scored. But he did not do much this time, rarely touching the ball before he subbed out in the second half.
The Whitecaps almost tied it in the 10th minute, but Gershon Koffie's shot from about 30 yards sailed wide of the right post. Vancouver had another chance in the 15th minute, but Mattocks' pass to Kenny Miller inside the box inadvertently hit him in the hand, nullifying the opportunity.
Los Angeles had a chance to increase its lead in the 25th minute, but Keane's shot off a throw-in went just over the crossbar. The Irish international had another chance from just outside Vancouver's box after a giveaway about seven minutes later, but his left-footed shot went just wide of the right post.