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Galaxy fight back to tie Dynamo

Posted on 20 April 2008 by ASN Staff

For the second straight week, Landon Donovan and David Beckham combined for a pair of goals, as the Los Angeles Galaxy fought back twice to earn a hard-fought draw against the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center on Saturday evening.

Though Brad Davis had put the visitors in front at the end of the first half, a physical altercation between Donovan and Patrick Ianni after an hour seemed to light a fire under the Galaxy, with the home team dominating the last thirty minutes. Donovan’s second brace in as many weeks sandwiched a Franco Caraccio goal, giving both teams a point for their troubles.

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Some one-touch passing created LA’s first scoring chance after just 60 seconds when Beckham combined with Alan Gordon, who found Edson Buddle at the top of the box. The last pass in the sequence found the foot of Landon Donovan, who immediately looked toward the goal and released a shot, but the U.S. international’s first effort of the night bent just wide of the far post.

Beckham would earn his first free-kick opportunity in the twelfth minute after Buddle drew a foul just outside the box, but – as is becoming routine on set pieces – the English superstar slammed his shot into the wall, ending the scoring opportunity.

The Dynamo would counter with a set piece chance of their own in the 26th minute from about 20 yards out. Brad Davis bent the ball over the wall, heading for the top right corner, but Galaxy keeper Steve Cronin managed to redirect the shot by getting his fingertips to the ball, causing it to strike the crossbar instead of tightening the net.

Smelling blood in the water, Houston came forward again just a minute later. Ricardo Clark, freshly returned from his MLS-record suspension, sliced the defense with a precise pass to the foot of Dwayne de Rosario, who had slipped in behind defender Greg Vanney. Facing a one-on-one situation with the Canadian superstar, Cronin came up big, bailing out his defense by parrying DDR’s shot wide of the far post to keep the game scoreless.

Davis would earn some measure of revenge on Cronin in the 36th minute. Brian Mullen sent in a cross from the right side that was headed back into the middle by Franco Caraccio, allowing Brian Ching to take a stab at the ball. The Flyin’ Hawaiian would largely whiff on his attempt, but his misfortune set the ball up nicely for Davis, who drove the ball past Cronin for the game’s first goal.

“I felt confident, I felt good, especially after making a couple of good saves in the first half,” Cronin said. “The goal I feel I could have done a little bit better on. At the same time, you look at it and there are two unmarked guys in the box.”

The Galaxy had a chance to even things up seconds before the halftime whistle when Chris Klein sent in a stunning cross to an open Buddle, but the forward’s header was pushed just wide of the target as the first half came to an end.

Ruud Gullit’s halftime speech must have lit a fire under the Galaxy, because the team that came out of the locker room for the second half looked hungry to score.

“A few words were said at halftime by players and by management,” said Beckham. “In the second half a few players were changed and we had a bit of fight in our game. That was what got us back into the game.”

In the 50th minute, a Donovan corner kick was headed down and through traffic by rookie Sean Franklin and was turned away by the last possible defender, as Wade Barrett headed the ball off the line to save the day.

Seconds later, Beckham tracked down a through-ball in the right corner and cut the ball back to the top of the box, where Buddle steadied and shot, only to be denied by Dynamo netminder Tony Caig.

Following that, another Beckham free kick, this time from the left side, looked much more threatening. Bending for Landon Donovan at the back post, the opportunity was intercepted by De Rosario and headed away as DeRo drifted into his own goal.

Things got physical in the 63rd minute as Donovan was knocked off his feet by Patrick Ianni while trying to beat the keeper to a ball at the edge of the box. Laying on the ground for about a minute before getting back to his feet, Landon had words with both Ianni and referee Mark Geiger over the play, visibly upset that there had been no call.

Though football and justice do not always go hand-in-hand, Donovan got the sweetest revenge on Ianni in the 68th minute as he beat the defender to a Beckham cross with a diving header that squeaked in between the near post and Caig, equaling the score. Jumping to his feet to celebrate, Donovan stood over Ianni, angrily barking at the player before being separated by teammates.

Houston fought back, however, in the 78th minute as Los Angeles was unable to clear a ball in the box. Brian Ching got the first crack at goal, lifting the ball over Cronin at point-blank range, but also finding the crossbar. Franco Caraccio was able to clean up the rebound, beating defender Abel Xavier on the goal-line to stake Houston to a late lead.

Though the opposing team’s goal quieted the raucous crowd somewhat, the Galaxy continued fighting to win every ball, and their determination paid off six minutes from full-time. Making a brilliant run behind the defense, Beckham caught the eye of Chris Klein, who delivered the ball spot-on to the midfielder. Cutting the ball across, Beckham’s pass found Donovan once again, who managed to re-direct the ball into the back of the net despite getting tugged down from behind by Richard Mulrooney. Donovan’s fifth goal in four games was good enough to earn a share of the points on the night.

“I think the most important thing is the passion,” said head coach Ruud Gullit after the match. “I saw heart and really good football. The crowd was behind us, they helped us also. It was a good game.”

“I’ve always said that when you play with players that are intelligent, they know where to run and where the ball is coming,” Beckham said. “That was the case tonight and the case in some of the other games. I’ve had a couple of assists in a few games now. It’s just about the understanding of the game and tonight we had that.”

Brad Davis 1 (Franco Caraccio, Brian Mullan) 36′
LA – Landon Donovan 4 (David Beckham) 67′
HOU – Franco Caraccio 2 (unassisted) 79′
LA – Landon Donovan 5 (David Beckham, Chris Klein) 84′

Tony Caig, Wade Barrett, Bobby Boswell, Patrick Ianni, Richard Mulrooney, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Brian Mullan, Dwayne de Rosario, Brian Ching, Franco Caraccio (Stuart Holden 81′)

LA – Steve Cronin, Mike Randolph, Greg Vanney, Sean Franklin, Chris Klein, Brandon McDonald, Josh Tudela (Abel Xavier 46′), Alan Gordon (Joe Franchino 46′), David Beckham, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan

Misconduct Summary
– Mike Randolph (caution; Pushing, Holding) 25′
LA – Greg Vanney (caution; Reckless Foul) 57′
HOU – Franco Caraccio (caution; Game Disrepute) 78′
HOU – Ricardo Clark (caution; Pushing, Holding) 92′

Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee’s Assts: Thomas Supple; Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Kevin Stott
Attendance: 23,401

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