Becks, Landon get Galaxy back on trackBy TJ Boyce • Apr 4th, 2008 • Category: Match Reports
Bouncing back from the second-worst defeat in club history, the Los Angeles Galaxy handily dispatched of the San Jose Earthquakes by a score of 2-0 on Thursday night. An early goal from David Beckham – his first of the MLS regular season – proved to be the game winner, with the English superstar assisting on a Landon Donovan insurance goal late in the first half.
Things didn’t look quite so promising for the Galaxy at the onset, as the upstart visitors stunned the home crowd just 120 seconds into the match. Ryan Cochrane nodded home a quickly-taken set piece past a flat-footed Steve Cronin, but the goal would not stand, as the Galaxy were bailed out by a questionable offside call.
At the other end of the field, the Los Angeles offense kicked into gear quickly as rookie Ely Allen took matters into his own hands. Pouncing on a failed clearance from defender James Riley, Allen employed a quick step-over to create some space inside the box before firing a shot that caromed off former Galaxy keeper Joe Cannon and away from danger.
The Galaxy threat continued minutes later with Beckham’s first corner kick of the night. Rising to meet the swooping out-swinger was Galaxy forward Alan Gordon, but the fifth-year player pushed his effort over the crossbar and harmlessly out of play.
Long-suffering Galaxy fans would be given something to cheer about in the ninth minute, as an unmarked Beckham was sent in alone on goal by a beautiful through-pass from Landon Donovan. The omnipresent face of Major League Soccer had no trouble besting the keeper, lining a low shot through the legs of Cannon and into the back of the net as the sell-out crowd erupted. It was Beckham’s first regular season goal in MLS.
The home side came close to doubling their advantage in the 15th minute, as Gordon sent another header in on goal. It was just off-target, however, flashing dangerously close to the far post on its way out.
Not content being resigned to the fate of an expansion team, the Earthquakes kept things close in the early stages and nearly leveled the score on twenty minutes.
The manic pace of the first half-hour subsided gradually as the game moved closer to halftime, with the Galaxy maintaining the majority of quality possession through Beckham in the midfield. Feeling out the opposing defense, Ruud Gullit’s team took the chances they were given, with their creativity eventually paying dividends.
One of the speediest players in Major League Soccer today, Donovan’s breakaway speed was put on display in the 37th minute, with the U.S. international winning a footrace with Cannon to a ball played over the top by Beckham. Pulling out his sand-wedge, Donovan chipped the ball over the onrushing netminder’s head and raced to the corner to celebrate, even before the ball had hit the back of the net.
“I feel bad for Joe,” said Donovan of scoring against his former teammate before joking, “He should stay on his line next time.”
Staked to a two-goal lead at the break, the invincible Galaxy were finally playing up to expectations. The more dangerous team throughout the half, Los Angeles outshot their rivals 11-2 in the first 45 minutes.
The Galaxy took the field in a more defensive posture for the second half, aiming to protect their advantage. Buoyed by a defensive strength not seen in their season opener, Los Angeles shut down everything thrown their way and launched a potent counter-attack, led by the feet of Donovan.
As the clock crossed over an hour, that counter-attack nearly produced a third goal as Donovan’s charge was matched on the wing by Gordon. With the ball being played from the middle of the field into space on the right, Gordon closed in on the San Jose net and fired off a rocket that was knocked away by Cannon to keep hope alive for the Earthquakes, at least momentarily.
That elusive third goal seemed within L.A.’s grasp in the 72nd minute, with the crowd coming to their feet as Gordon outran his defender to earn another crack against Cannon. But the Oregon State product’s pace was also too fast for the ball, causing the striker to overrun the orb before being closed down by a pair of defenders.
Despite failing to add to their goal total in the second half, the Galaxy easily coasted to a 2-0 victory on the night, a much improved effort over last weekend’s 4-0 loss at the hands of the Colorado Rapids.
“In the first game, we were all over the place, from the back to the midfield to up front,” said Beckham after the game. “That’s something that we’ve worked on the last two or three days… it showed tonight.
“Tonight was one of those nights where I scored,” he continued. “I’m happy, but I’m more happy with the team’s performance.”
LAG – David Beckham 1 (Landon Donovan) 9′
LAG – Landon Donovan 1 (David Beckham, Alan Gordon) 37′
SJ - Joe Cannon, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, James Riley, Ronnie O’Brien, Ramiro Corrales, Ned Grabavoy (Ryan Johnson 85′), Ivan Guerrero (John Cunliffe 69′), Kei Kamara, Shea Salinas (Gavin Glinton 57′)
LAG – Steve Cronin, Chris Klein, Sean Franklin, Greg Vanney, Mike Randolph (Michael Gavin 87′), David Beckham, Alvaro Pires, Brandon McDonald, Ely Allen, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon
LAG – Mike Randolph (caution; Pushing, Holding) 7′
SJ – Kei Kamara (caution; Pushing, Holding) 78′
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assts: Jose Corro, Emiliano Monje
Fourth Official: Kevin Stott