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The Galaxy played better in the second half, but a silly penalty in the 59’ put the game out of reach. Yohance Marshall, in only his second MLS game, got tied up with Dane Richards in the box and earned an automatic yellow. Juan Pablo Angel took the kick and put it easily in the back of the net.
Coach Bruce Arena said:
New York deserved to win tonight, they outplayed us in the first half. No question about that, their midfield dominated ours. First half was very disappointing, no pressure on the ball...our team shape was poor, and that's on me, very disappointed at how we can out and played the first 45.
Indeed, there seemed to be some confusion on the pitch with David Beckham making his first start. Donovan and Beckham often ended up on the same side of the field, and passes came into the box without people in formation to take advantage of them.
Dane Richards, of course, was also responsible for the Red Bulls first goal, a rebound off a Joel Lindpere goal which bounced off the left post and on to Richard's foot, with Todd Dunivant looking out of position and unable to clear the ball away.
Coach Hanse Backe said:
Massive on the road win for us, of course, winning two nil, having the clean sheet. [I felt] we deserved this match, within the first three minutes we controlled the game. The passing game was excellent as was the possession; in a way LA had huge problems to defend against Marquez...in the second half they got some chances but I'd say one of [our] best performances.
New York was able to come in and get three points on the road against the best team in the league, and they did it by pressing the Galaxy’s young centerbacks. With Omar Gonzalez and Gregg Berhalter out, Yohance Marshall and Leonardo had to pick up the slack, and mistakes by them and Todd Dunivant were key in both NY goals. The Galaxy back four looked lost against Rafael Marquez and Juan Pablo Angel. A.J. DeLaGarza coming in for an injured Leonardo at the beginning of the second half tightened things up a bit, but not enough.
Bouna Coundoul earned the win and the clean sheet, saving three LA Galaxy shots. Donovan Ricketts, who at one time had the best shots against average rating in the league let in more than he saved, with two goals allowed and only one save.
It wasn't the intention of Bruce Arena to have Beckham go the whole 90, but with necessary substitutions for injured Leonardo and Kirovski he had little chance but to keep Beckham in with the Galaxy down two. One of the unfortunate truths of the MLS is that top teams often have depth level with a bottom tier EPL team. Of the Galaxy's three subs, only Eddie Lewis has played a full year in MLS.
The Galaxy's next challenge is an "away" match against Chivas USA, next Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
The tale of the first half is the legend of the sleeping first place team. The Galaxy didn’t manage a shot on goal the entire half, and didn’t manage a shot after the 19’. In the 7’ Juninho went wide left, and in the 19’ Edson Buddle met with a brilliant Beckham cross, but it was deflected wide right.
Meanwhile New York looked ready to go for this match. Ricketts had to make his first save in the 14’, grabbing Mehdi Ballouchy’s second shot of the match. Joel Lindpere also has two shots so far, his first just missing the right post in a shot Ricketts had no play on, his second going off the left post and bouncing back into play, right onto the foot of Dane Richards who put the ball easily in the back of the net.
Ricketts has stopped as much as he’s saved, but the Galaxy will need stronger play in the back, and better finishes off balls played in if they want to turn this one around in the second half.
Los Angeles Galaxy
1 GK Ricketts
28 DEF Franklin
5 DEF Marshall
22 DEF Leonardo - In for Omar Gonzalez
2 DEF Dunivant
23 MID Beckham - first start
19 MID Juninho
21 MID Kovalenko
10 MID Donovan - Captain
14 FWD Buddle
9 FWD Kirovski
New York Red Bulls
18 GK Coundoul
2 DEF Talley
44 DEF Mendes
5 DEF Ream
7 DEF Miller
19 MID Richards
10 MID Ballouchy
4 MID Marquez
23 MD Tchani
20 MID Lindpere
9 FWD Angel
The Home Depot Center, 8 p.m. PT; ESPN2
It's gonna be a heavyweight fight. It's gonna be a battle of titans going at it like gladiators. The left hand of god is coming down to do battle with the right hand of god.
I just wanted to get in the first hyperboles.
And so here we are. Friday night, national television, David Beckham, Juan Pablo Angel, Landon Donovan, an injured Thierry Henry, all the stars come out to play. Heck, we might even see Tom Cruise, Kobe Bryant, you never know where the circus can go.
"All of these games, the last five games are very important," Arena said. "We have a lot of goals in mind. In order to accomplish them we’re going to have to secure points at home. Friday night is very important. Our goal is to win the Supporters' Shield and also to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. In order to do that, we have to win each and every game."
The first edition of this matchup was stellar, with LA pulling out a 1-0 victory on an Edson Buddle goal off a Juninho assist. Juninho picked off a Raphael Marquez pass at midfield, which brought up questions about Marquez' adjustment to the MLS style of play. With the Galaxy on an upswing (2-0-1 in their last three matches) and the Red Bulls on a tear (3-1-1 in their last five) two well oiled machines are going to go at it tonight.
Landon Donovan has scored two goals and had three assists during this three day stretch, taking part of five of the Galaxy's six goals scored.
"I want to make sure we finish top of the league and I want to win the MVP again and I wanted to make a statement," Donovan said.
Said David Beckham:
"When you’ve got someone like Landon who has that pace that can capitalize on mistakes teams make, you need that."
LA will be missing a key piece in Omar Gonzalez, who picked up a yellow card suspension last match. Of course, New York will be without Thierry Henry who has a right knee MCL strain. For the future physicians out there, MCL is the Medial Collateral Ligament, one of the four major ligaments in the knee. Medial refers to the midline of the body so medial muscles are inner, collateral in a medical sense means parallel. American Football players are prone to this injury, for the same reason soccer players are vulnerable, the grip of the cleats on the grass.
Rafael Marquez will start, but he won't see more than 60 minutes as fatigue has become a factor of him.
How many minutes Beckham will get is debatable. He came in last game just after half time, which Bruce Arena said was planned. Starting seems out of the question, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him coming in around the 40' mark. I won't go to far into the nature of Achilles injuries, but since I haven't touched on it yet it's worth mentioning that the injury results from explosive acceleration, pushing off and the like, which is why Beckham may appear sluggish on the pitch, he won't be able to accelerate from standing position until that tendon is fully healed, and he's got doctors in his ear about the condition of said tendon every day.
I'll spare you the side note about Achilles and why he lends his name to a body part. I'm gonna assume most people know that story.
Juninho is on the same warning Omar Gonzalez was last game, he adds a lot for the Galaxy in the middle, so he'll need to be careful avoiding a yellow card, as he's had to be for a few games now.
The Galaxy's midseason win over the Red Bulls broke a tie in the all time series. The Galaxy have won the last three meetings between them and New York, for the first time since the Red Bulls were the Metro Stars in the MLS inaugural season.
Had Henry not gone down with an injury, it would have been the 12th time these two superstars faced each other. Five times in the premier league (when Beckham was with Man U and Henry with Chelsea) and four in the European cup. They also met twice at the international level, going back to 1998. Henry scored five goals in those matchups, with Beckham not scoring any.