Archive | October, 2011

Final DC United game summarizes season and points to next year

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Steve Long

In DC United’s final action of the 2011 season, Josh Wolff headed a ball just off the top of the crossbar following two smart and precise passes nearly tying the conference leaders and saving some face for a side that has watched its season fade into frustrating “might have been” moments. Somehow, it was a fitting conclusion.

Game after game down the stretch, something would go wrong, usually in the last few minutes. Chances to score fell just short of realization or inattention to defensive duties let an opponent pull out a win or a tie. Coach Ben Olsen has an inexperienced squad and is himself still learning.

It showed all season as the team gradually gained better shape and style, only to slide into ineffectiveness toward the end.

The coach took most of the burden on himself, but was sanguine about future prospects, “It was a pretty good performance overall. We know what we need; I know what we need for next year. But it’s not as much as you guys think. I still have a lot of confidence in this group of players.”

The players have always shown the most obvious signs of Olsen’s influence; they play with grit and persistence. Their failures have been not with heart, but with smarts. Experience brings wisdom, and neither the coach nor the players are quite yet where they need to be.

A winter of reflection and study by players and coaches combined with the acquisition of a few key pieces that Olsen has his eye on should justify the coach’s optimism. Olsen has always been more cerebral than he lets on, but his knowledge built up over years will take time to communicate.

This year he has struggled with the actual teaching techniques, when and exactly how to structure practices to create a shape to fit both his team’s and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

We saw a hint of his thinking on Saturday as he sent out an unusual formation as described by Tino Quaranta, “We changed our formation tonight which was encouraging I think for not working on it. Call it 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, whatever you want to call it. I think the guys responded well. We created chances.”

Stephen King, who got to ply his trade in central midfield, liked the idea, “I think it was good. I think it was something worth trying. Maybe going into next season we’ll work on it in preseason and see if that’s the direction we want to go….

“Playing against a team that does clog the middle a little bit and plays with 3 central midfielders we thought that we could counter their formation with what we did….We definitely noticed that there was a lot of space out wide especially when we’d switch the ball quickly to Andy or Austin or Tino early on….It’s something we looked to do.”

Austin Da Luz agreed, “I think with a little more time we can be successful with that formation. We’ll see what happens. At the end of the day it does make for a more exciting game. It opens up a little bit more and it can be a good thing.”

On the flip side of the argument, Kansas City’s coach, Peter Vermes cited the downside if the formation drifts too much in the 4-5-1 direction, “I think it was a little hard for [Dwayne De Rosario] because he was a man on an island tonight playing as one up top.”

In theory, the wide midfielders should alternately either draw coverage from the center or go poorly marked, with advantages flowing from either development. Both responses increase space for an attacking side to exploit.

DC United is one of the shorter and less physical sides in MLS, explaining a major weakness that was on display Saturday when Sporting Kansas City scored the game winner. Set pieces require at least some size to defend and also to attack.

Interestingly, one of United’s most anticipated improvements for next year will feature the slim, gritty, and clever Perry Kitchen. His skills in the defensive midfield position are such that he is expected to be one of the best in the league as he grows into the role. Yet, he indicates that he has no intention of spending the winter putting on pounds of muscle.

He believes that enough international stars at the position are built like him that he is best off going with his natural skill set. He may well be right, and if so, Olsen would do well to look for a large strong central defender to join the also slim Dejan Jakovic in the back line.

Scoring Summary:

KC — Matt Besler 2 (unassisted) 54

Sporting KC — Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 46), Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum, Jeferson, Soony Saad, Eric Kronberg.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard (Marc Burch 46), Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Clyde Simms (Austin Da Luz 17), Stephen King (Josh Wolff 75), Dwayne De Rosario, Santino Quaranta.
Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Charlie Davies, Joseph Ngwenya, Joe Willis.

Misconduct Summary:
KC — Roger Espinoza (caution; Tactical Foul) 26
DC — Perry Kitchen (caution; Reckless Tackle) 34

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: -Eric Proctor; Corey Parker
4th Official: Mark Kadlecik
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-56-degrees

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Committed DC United goes down swinging as 1-1 tie falls short

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Chris Snear

Nearly every DC United player collapsed to the soggy RFK Stadium turf at the final whistle knowing that their 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers was not good enough to keep their playoff hopes alive. To their credit, United left everything they had on the field as a dramatic but often maddening push throughout the second half got the equalizer but was simply not good enough to forge the home side ahead.

“It’s funny; it was basically my pre-game speech. Let’s go down swinging; let’s show the people that we are completely committed out there and we’ll need to push it to the limit to get this result,” said United Head Coach Ben Oslen.

United will now miss the playoffs for a club-record fourth consecutive year.

Dwayne De Rosario, with his right ankle heavily taped and noticeably limping after being kicked in the first half, scored his league leading 16th goal of the season for a brilliant equalizer in the 73rd minute after Kenny Cooper had given the Timber the lead with an easy header in the 24th minute.

“It was disheartening. It is but it isn’t in the sense that we showed some fight,” De Rosario said. “Yeah it was basically both teams having chances at the end. We definitely had some great opportunities, and if we had a little more hunger and a little more fight, we finish those chances. Those are things we really need how to learn – to commit to that final ball and get your body behind it.”

After taking a good ball from Josh Wolff, De Rosario drifted to left side of the penalty area, took a turn and beat former United goalkeeper Troy Perkins with a definitive strike to the near post.

“If Dwayne De Rosario doesn’t get MVP of the League there’s something wrong. Plain and simple,” said Timbers coach John Spencer, who coached De Rosario during his time as an assistant in Houston. “For the last three months of the season since he came here he’s been the best player in the League by far – a country mile. He needs to win MVP.”

United thought they had what would surely have been a season saving goal in the 89th minute but Blake Brettschneider header was disallowed when he was correctly ruled to be in an offside position. Perkins came out to play the original shot and ended up going past Brettschneider thus leaving just one defender as the cross was played in.

Cooper’s goal was much simpler, as he slipped between McDonald and Ethan White to nod home an equally simple but perfect cross from another former United player, Rodney Wallace, from the left flank.

Regardless of the implications, the game was apparently destined to be played in wet conditions. The match was originally scheduled for August 25 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene and on this day, a steady rain all day drenched the Washington metropolitan area but stopped shortly before kickoff.

Despite United’s comprehensive attacking posture with De Rosario playing behind Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies, neither team managed to create more than a half chance through the first 20 plus minutes with one exception. McDonald rifled a header just over the bar off a Santino Quaranta corner kick that disturbed the netting enough to cause an unfounded roar from the home crowd in the 10th minute.

Andy Najar made a strong run with his usual touch of flair down the left flank in the 34th minute, but his right footed shot targeted for the near post from inside the penalty area was not equal to the quality of the run.

Quaranta had an even better opportunity in the 42nd minute but that also went awry. After a strong cut back dribble around Lovel Palmer at the top left corner of the penalty area, his left footed attempt across the face of the goal somehow bounced over the extended foot of a charging Wolff and then skidded just wide of the far post.

But the real drama and thrills did not come until after the break.

“It was a bit of a blur those last 20-30 minutes, and the whole second half,” said Oslen. “But I am extremely proud of the guys tonight – I can’t believe nobody scored down that stretch. The amount of chances that were going on was pretty remarkable. I have to look at it, but it seems that we had the better ones. It just wasn’t our night. Troy [Perkins] came off with a couple of saves, and they did well to put their bodies in front of us on some and we didn’t do well with some finishes as well.”

Knowing it needed a goal quickly in the second half, United formulated significant stretches of coordinated attack but could not find the final idea or execute the final ball to get through Portland’s solid defensive structure.

When White’s lay off for De Rosario in the penalty area was woefully off the mark, the Timbers counter nearly produced the sure clincher in the 60th minute but Kalif Alhassan’s late-contested whistler from the top of the box went just wide of the right post.

Shortly thereafter, hobbling or not, De Rosario muscled his way around a much bigger Mamadou Danso but as another defender closed down the space, he got bumped and fell to the turf but not enough for referee Jair Marrufo to point to the penalty spot.

“It felt like a schoolyard game at the end,” said Quaranta. “Every time we got the ball going forward I felt like it was going to be a chance to score.”

Portland thought they had the go ahead goal just seconds later but Brian Umony’s attempt from close range hit under the crossbar and came straight down but clearly did not cross the goal line.

Umony scampered into the penalty area uncontested seconds later but Bill Hamid came up with a tremendous save to keep United’s hopes alive in the 85th minute. Hamid made an even better reflex save a minute later to deny Bright Dike who fired from with in a crowd but straight away from 14-yards.

In extra time, De Rosario beat Perkins to a bouncing ball but his shot toward the open net was blocked by an alert Eric Brunner.

De Rosario sent another ball across the face of the goal seconds later that Joseph Ngwenya got onto but his foot was clipped by a Portland defender and the weakened result was knocked away by Perkins and Blake Brettschneider’s desperate follow up was blocked.

United will conclude this year’s efforts against conference co-leader Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

Scoring Summary:
POR — Kenny Cooper 8 (Rodney Wallace 2) 24
DC — Dwayne De Rosario 16 (Josh Wolff 7) 73

Portland Timbers — Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace (Mike Chabala 79), Eric Alexander (Brian Umony 63), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 84).

Substitutes Not Used: David Horst, Jorge Perlaza, Steve Purdy, Jake Gleeson.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Ethan White (Joseph Ngwenya 89), Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard (Austin Da Luz 71), Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Santino Quaranta, Charlie Davies (Blake Brettschneider 51), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Wolff.

Substitutes Not Used: Stephen King, Kurt Morsink, Clyde Simms, Joe Willis.

Misconduct Summary:
DC — Brandon McDonald (caution; Tactical Foul) 58
POR — Bright Dike (caution; Reckless Foul) 85
DC — Austin Da Luz (caution; Reckless Foul) 90

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: -C.J. Morgante; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Rain-and-68-degrees
Attendance: 14,317

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Unimaginative play leaves DC United wanting

Posted on 17 October 2011 by Steve Long

There are three reasons why a team may be unworthy of making the playoffs. They are a lack of talent, a lack of effort, and a lack of intelligent play. DC United has the talent, but puts out too much effort in poorly focused play.

In July, there were a couple of games when the team could be described as bereft of ideas. While players usually moved effectively to support teammates on defense, there were too few runs off the ball on attack.

Then things improved as coach Ben Olsen gradually brought his team along to a point in early September where they were making such runs for one another, not only in defense, but also in possession and on attack.

Somehow, that fluidity went away and United’s play and results have suffered greatly.

Perhaps fatigue played a part as United had two spurts of crowded play. Olsen pointed out that, “Flying back from Vancouver after a tough loss, I thought there were some heavy guys out there to push through it. The game plan was to grind it out, and we did it.”

However, the Fire were also tired and thus fatigue combined with mutual decisions to contest midfield aggressively, causing play naturally to become narrowed. Both teams played hard, but both also played unwisely.

Dwayne DeRosario, a hard working and clever player was hard on his teammates, “It’s frustrating because you want to see that commitment, you want to see that passion and desire to win every ball – to do whatever it takes to stop a shot or block a ball to stop a play – but that isn’t the case and I don’t see that right now.”

His viewpoint reflected mostly on Chicago’s exceptional defensive efforts. In a most unusual statistic, DC United took 13 shots of which 8 were deflected by Fire defenders almost immediately. Only the penalty kick was on goal

In contrast, the Fire had no shots deflected. Their errors were normally wide, high, or saved. They were not particularly worthy of the points they obtained either. Only incisive play at the very end redeemed their poor shooting earlier.

Team qualities, fatigue, and coaches’ recognition of both meant it would be a grinding game.

Olsen’s comment reflected that, “I thought they put a lot of numbers in the midfield – it’s a lot of work in there. That’s why we put some of the guys in early, to deal with that. We had to push the game and I thought we put the right guys in to get the game changed. I think everything worked out, except the last couple of minutes.”

The game opened with a few long forays by both sides and then deteriorated into narrow contests over possession. Width of play was lacking for the first twelve minutes. Then the Fire’s Marco Pappa started to exploit the space on Chicago’s right wing. His DC United counterpart, Austin Da Luz’ responded well, also playing wide.

Sadly, the good shape lasted for about another twelve minutes until both teams lapsed into a shortsighted, narrow style again. The emphasis on control distorted intelligent play and worsened the fatigue factor.

The surest way to save energy is to let the ball do the work. Certainly, pressing the ball is necessary and will concentrate players. Still, once one has possession it is far easier to let the ball do the work by making or finding space with wide play and insightful supporting runs into that space.

Late game fatigue leads to lapses in concentration and Olsen is certain to emphasize the need to maintain focus throughout United’s last two games on Wednesday and Saturday. In Vancouver, United gave up a goal in the first minute. At home, they lost focus late. Neither lapse is excusable in a professional team.

While players must accept responsibility for their own efforts and decision making, it is the role of the coaching staff to set them up for success. In the next few days, Olsen and company must somehow return the team to the intelligent play they had so recently displayed.

With two consecutive wins, a novel idea this year, and a Red Bull loss, United may yet see the post-season action they have thus far not merited.

Scoring:
DC — Dwayne De Rosario 15 (penalty kick) 90
CHI — Sebastian Grazzini 5 (Gonzalo Segares 4) 92+
CHI — Diego Chaves 5 (Gonzalo Segares 5, Orr Barouch 2) 94+

Lineups:

Chicago Fire — Sean Johnson, Michael Videira (Yamith Cuesta 19), Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 89), Marco Pappa, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 73). Substitutes Not Used: Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Pari Pantazopoulos, Jon Conway.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar, Stephen King (Marc Burch 75), Clyde Simms, Austin Da Luz (Santino Quaranta 57), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Wolff (Charlie Davies 79). Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Joseph Ngwenya, Ethan White, Joe Willis.

Misconduct:
CHI — Josip Mikulic (caution; Reckless Foul) 46
DC — Andy Najar (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
CHI — Orr Barouch (caution; Dissent) 78

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey, Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Terry Vaughn

Attendance: 16,548
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 66 degrees

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Barrett lifts Galaxy to Superclasico win

Posted on 17 October 2011 by iyeo

At first if you don’t succeed, try, and try again.

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Chad Barrett must have been uttering those words at halftime of LA’s Superclasico matchup against Chivas USA. The Galaxy forward had numerous chances in the first half, but it wasn’t until the 53rd minute when Barrett finally broke through, as his header off an Adam Cristman cross finally found the back of the net, and that strike was all Los Angeles needed to hold off Chivas USA on Sunday evening at the Home Depot Center.

“We kept our composure, we kept on playing, and we knew if we created chances, we would score,” Galaxy midfielder Beckham said.

The win accomplishes several feats for the Galaxy. One, they capture its fourth straight Superclasico against its in-stadium rivals and second, they finish the 2011 regular season undefeated at home. The Galaxy also climb up to 67 points, one point shy of the MLS record for points in a season, which was set by LA in 1998.

After watching chance after chance go begging in the first half, Barrett finally had his moment in the 53rd minute. Barrett headed a ball forward to Cristman, who sprinted into the right side of the 18. Cristman crossed a ball into the six-yard box, where Barrett timed his jump perfectly and headed a ball past Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy, slotting the ball into the near post.

“I flicked a ball to Adam and he did a great job to get the cross in there,” Cristman said. “He just put it right on my head and you can’t even miss from there.”

Barrett had as many as five chances in the first half, but came up empty on all of them. The striker’s first chance came two minute into the match, as Cristman sent him loose with a forward ball. Barrett sprinted into the 18, eluded Kennedy and fired on goal, but Chivas defender Andrew Boyens cleared the ball near the goal line.

“LA was coming at us a great deal in the first half, but I think a lot of that was attributed to the fact that we weren’t quite good enough with the ball,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser said.

Barrett continued to be active around the Chivas net, even channeling his inner Pele in the 18th minute when he attempted a bicycle kick that was on the mark, but denied by Kennedy. The third attempt was probably the best shot for Barrett, as he headed a Todd Dunivant cross towards goal, only to see it bounce off the near post. The last two chances, also headers, went wide left, then wide right.

“I wasn’t beating myself up,” Barrett said. “I was getting the chances, putting myself in good positions, and I knew if I kept doing that, I was going to score.”

Score he did, and Barrett proved to be the thorn on the side of Chivas USA yet again, as he has scored both goals in this year’s Superclasico matchup, though the rubber match didn’t carry a whole lot of drama, as the Galaxy had already wrapped up the Supporters’ Shield and Chivas USA had been eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.

“You learn all throughout the year,” Fraser, who is finishing his first season as Chivas head coach said. “We’ve indentified things we need to get better at, and tonight was just another example of that.”

The Galaxy finish the MLS regular season on the road against the Houston Dynamo next Sunday, but first, it has a very important CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday. Los Angeles travels to Honduras to face CD Motagua, where three points guarantees them a spot in the knockout stage of the tournament. Chivas USA finishes up the season at home against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Chivas USA 0
October 16, 2011; Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary:
LA — Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman) 53

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Gregg Berhalter (caution; Reckless Tackle) 57
CHV — Juan Pablo Angel (caution; Tactical Foul) 61
CHV — Ante Jazic (caution; Dissent) 75

Lineups:
Chivas USA — Dan Kennedy, Zarek Valentin, Andrew Boyens, David Junior Lopes (Heath Pearce 46), Ante Jazic, Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Lahoud (Laurent Courtois 59), Marcos Mondaini, Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno.

Substitutes Not Used: Simon Elliott, Victor Estupinan, Jorge Flores, Blair Gavin, Zach Thornton.

LA Galaxy — Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, David Beckham, Juninho (Michael Stephens 61), Paolo Cardozo, Chad Barrett (Jovan Kirovski 85), Adam Cristman (Chris Birchall 73).

Substitutes Not Used: Dan Keat, Miguel Lopez, Dasan Robinson, Donovan Ricketts.

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Jasen Anno
Attendance: 27,000
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 70 degrees

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It’s time for DC to play free

Posted on 11 October 2011 by Chris Snear

There is no more time for talking, no more tactical or technical points of soccer to sort out and direct learning is going to have to be put on hold. It’s very simple: its win time and that’s it for DC United.

That’s all there is to do at this point and what exacerbates the situation is that winning still doesn’t guarantee you anything after all of the point squandering that was done earlier in the season.

“I’m tired of looking at the standings and what we need and what other teams need; we need to win now. It’s pretty simple,” said United Coach Ben Olsen.

United (9-10-11, 38 points) are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference with four games remaining and two games in hand on every team ahead of them. They travel to Vancouver for a late Wednesday game then return home to face Chicago on Saturday, who stand just a point behind United.

United are likely to take on Vancouver without the league’s leading scorer, Dwayne DeRosario (14 goals), who may not be fit for play after a hectic travel schedule with the Canadian National Team. Central defender Dejan Jakovic (R hamstring strain) is listed as questionable but is “hopeful” according to Olsen and may be healthy enough for consideration by game time.

After squandering points on a regular basis throughout the season, especially at home, United have no one but themselves to blame for this predicament. Whether it’s giving away leads and settling for draws, a league wide problem not exclusive to just United, or just diabolical mental breakdowns, they have been pushed to a state of singular focus.

On a positive note, they have had a nice break to get healthy, clear their heads after two divergent loses on the road and to get ready for these last four matches.

They crawled back to level before halftime after conceding two early tallies to Philadelphia before failing to hold on for what would have been a worthy point. United took the lead late in the first half two days later at Columbus before conceding two, including an unlucky own goal for the equalizer, to drop another winnable game.

“I don’t look at those two games as bad efforts. We made some mistakes and down the stretch when you tend to make mistakes, you get punished. I’m not disappointed in the effort overall but we need results now so in one way we know what we have to do now and that’s a good thing,” Olsen said.

Regardless of the results, at some point these mistakes have to go away or unfocused may be just who they are this season.

“Ties on the road are good,” said Josh Wolff. “Ties at home are not so good… When you get to this point in the season it would be nice to be in before these games start but like I said to a lot of the guys you are not in the playoffs until you are in and you are not out until you are out. We lost our way a bit in two games on the road where we were in position to get some points and we let them go.”

Young or old, tired or spry, that doesn’t matter at this point either. “Throughout some of these games we lose our focus and our concentration and it’s not just one play. A play may lead to a goal but it’s usually a compilation of many things,” added Wolff.

“You keep pressing and try to make the points that need to be made with the entire group; it’s the group being able to assess it and make more plays that are there to be made. The last game we didn’t do that and we need to and we got punished for it.”

United still have the youngest starting XI in the league but that excuse, though perhaps still viable, is irrelevant as well. “I don’t think they know any better but these playoffs are not easy to make,” Santino Quaranta said about the team’s young players.

“We haven’t been in the playoffs in a couple of years so you try and stress to them that getting there is not easy and it’s been a long year and you try and reward yourself with something.”

Finally, the finer points of technical and tactical soccer are for another day and time as well. It’s all about making plays and the plays that win games. “It’s not technical; we’ve been through all that stuff. You know what you have to do. It comes down to one-on-one battles and more mental stuff for us, like can we see a game out,” Quaranta said.

“This has been our problem this year; 1-0 against Columbus…we should probably see that game out. Guys are getting real uptight and I am getting more uptight; you are thinking more about every play, every situation instead of playing on instincts and playing free.”

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Sounders Win Third US Open Cup

Posted on 05 October 2011 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders have won the US Open Cup in each of the three years of their existence in MLS. Continue Reading

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Galaxy inch closer to Supporters’ Shield

Posted on 02 October 2011 by iyeo

It’s been a week of grinding out results for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Last Saturday, a stoppage time strike by Chad Barrett earned three points against the Columbus Crew on the road, then three days later, another last minute goal, this time from Juninho game the Galaxy a 2-1 win over visiting Monarcas Morelia that kept alive LA’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League Tournament.

This time, LA made sure it didn’t have to wait that long to win this match, yet the three points earned against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night was every bit as gritty, as the Galaxy rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Real Salt Lake 2-1 at the Home Depot Center.

“It was a good game tonight,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “It was nice to have our team really challenged and come from behind.”

The win is LA’s first win after trailing at halftime, but more importantly, the win, which bumped LA’s point total to 64 points, keeps the Galaxy seven points clear of the Seattle Sounders and inches Los Angeles ever so close to the Supporters Shield. Only the Sounders’ 2-1 win over the New England Revolution kept LA from clinching the Shield on Saturday night. As for Real Salt Lake, despite being sent to its third straight loss, head coach Jason Kreis was satisfied with the effort put forth against the Galaxy.

“I thought we stretched LA to their wits end tonight,” Kreis said. “They’re the beat team in the league, they have the most points for a reason and I think we gave them a pretty difficult challenge tonight.”

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Galaxy rose tot eh occasion starting in the 59th minute. David Beckham played a dazzling long ball into the penalty area in the direction of a sprinting Chad Barrett. RSL center back Jamison Olave came in for some last minute defending, but Barrett managed to chip a ball at goal which got past keeper Nick Rimando and crossed the goal line even as the ball actually went back into play.

“It was probably miscommunication between Olave and Rimando and I saw the opportunity,” Barrett said. “I put my toe in there, Rimando’s had was down and I just lifted it up over him.”

Los Angeles then pulled ahead in the 72nd minute and Beckham again played a role, as he sent a free kick into the 18 to Todd Dunivant, who then crossed a ball inside the six and Nat Borchers’ erred on his defending, as the ball glanced off his foot and into the back netting. The Galaxy never looked back afterward.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but we were aggressive, kept our composure and did what we had to do,” Arena said.

Real Salt Lake was the first to strike in the first half, and it came just before stoppage time. Javier Morales’s corner from the left side was headed by Nat Borchers towards goal, but a deflection off a Galaxy player sent the ball to the end-line for another RSL corner, this one on the right side. This time, Real Salt Lake succeeded, as Morales’ corner went to Fabian Espindola, whose header beat a flat-footed Josh Saunders to the back post.

“I wanted a collective team effort and I wanted a team that showed a little more discipline and was more difficult to break down,” Kreis said. “We didn’t get the result we hoped for, but we got a lot of hard work and a sense of improvement.”

Both teams had some chances to get on the board prior to the RSL goal. LA’s first opportunity was gifted by Salt Lake themselves in the 32nd minute, as Nat Borchers’ clearance was collected by Robbie Keane, but his touch was a little too heavy and Nick Rimando gobbled up the loose ball. LA’s other good look at goal came in the 38th minute when Will Johnson handled a Juninho volley, giving LA a free shot from about 23 yards out. A brief scrum ensued as RSL protested the call, leading to Borchers being carded and a minute later, Beckham’s free kick just missed the near post. Real Salt Lake’s one good look at goal came in the 17th minute when a Paolo Cardozo foul set up RSL from about 23 yards out. Morales aimed for the upper left corner, but his free kick was parried away by Saunders.

The Galaxy will plays its last game on short rest before a long and deserved 12 days off, as they travel to New York to face the Red Bulls this coming Tuesday in the match at Red Bull Arena that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene. Real Salt Lake will try to snap out of its funk on Thursday, as they travel to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps at BC Place Stadium.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Real Salt Lake 1
October 1, 2011; Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary
RSL – Fabian Espindola (Javier Morales) 45
LA – Chad Barrett (David Beckham) 60
LA – Own goal (Nat Borchers) 72

Discipline Summary
RSL – Fabian Espindola (Unsporting Behavior) 38
LA – Omar Gonzalez (Reckless Tackle) 40
LA – Paolo Cardozo (Reckless Tackle) 43
RSL – Ned Gabavoy (Reckless Tackle) 49+
RSL – Javier Morales (Dissent) 48
RSL – Yordany Alvarez (Tactical Foul) 57

Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Yordany Alvarez (Andy Williams 74), Will Johnson, Javier Morales (Collen Warner 80), Ned Grabavoy, Fabian Espindola (Paulo Araujo Jr. 65), Alvaro Saborio.

Substitutes not used: Tim Mella, Rauwshan McKenzie, Arturo Alvarez, Luis Gil.

Los Angeles Galaxy – Josh Saunders, Bryan Jordan, Omar Gonzalez, AJ DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Paolo Cardozo, David Beckham, Juninho, Landon Donovan (Michael Stephens 89), Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman 70), Robbie Keane (Joan Kirovski 91).

Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Frankie Hejduk, Hector Jimenez, Miguel Lopez.

Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistants, Brian Poeschel, Adam Wienckowski
Fourth Official: Ramon Hernandez
Weather: Clear and 64 degrees
Attendance: 27,000
Time of match: 1:54

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