Beckham brace bends Galaxy back from the brink

Posted on 05 May 2008 by Patrick McShane

Morales spins Becks right round, baby right round ©ASN/Julia Fizer

The L.A. Galaxy came back from being down by two goals to tie Real Salt Lake 2-2, thanks in large part to David Beckham’s stunning performance.

RSL entered Saturday’s match looking to continue their solid performance at home, having just defeated San Jose 4-0 in the U.S. Open Cup play-in match on Wednesday. After 20 minutes it looked as though RSL would continue to score goals in bunches at home, only to see both the lead and their control of the match erode in a span of five minutes thanks to two bending David Beckham goals.

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Rookie Tony Beltran got his first MLS start in place of injured and under-performing Ian Joy as RSL continue to retool and adapt their back line. This change appeared to pay off on the offensive side, as RSL were particularly aggressive on the wings, pushing the ball forward for much of the match. This wing play combined with decent control and possession in the middle is what allowed RSL to finally break the Galaxy’s defense in the 6th minute.

After just missing on a chance to open his account two minutes earlier, Fabian Espindola took advantage on his second opportunity. Collecting a beautifully driven cross from Javier Morales on the far right wing, Espindola slotted the ball into the lower right corner of the net past a diving Steve Cronin.

Moment later the situation appeared to worsen for the Galaxy when forward Edson Buddle came up lame, only to be replaced by Alan Gordon. This early substitution seemed to cause even more confusion to an already unstable Galaxy lineup as they persistently gave the ball away in the middle of the pitch and seemed unorganized on the attack with numerous errant passes.

RSL struck again in the 18th minute when Morales placed the perfect cross into the box to a wide-open Kenny Deuchar for a sublime header placed perfectly inside the right corner of goal. The most Cronin could do was push the ball inside the net as Deuchar ran off to celebrate his first goal at home for RSL. The assist from Morales tied him with none other than David Beckham for the top assist count in the MLS with four.

Despite their lead, RSL continued to push forward with even their central defenders, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave, getting involved with offensive breaks. This effort almost paid off in the 24th minute when Olave nearly scored on a corner kick from Andy Williams, only to head the ball over the goal.

The momentum changed in the 36th minute, however, when RSL found themselves in shock due to two fantastic goals courtesy of David Beckham. Trying to pass out of the back instead of clear, Beltran lost possession of the ball, which eventually landed at the feet of a wide-open Beckham on the right wing. Not wasting an obvious opportunity, Beckham set himself and placed a perfect, bending shot into the top-left corner of goal past a diving Nick Rimando.

Minutes later the Galaxy earned a free kick at the top of the box in ideal territory for one of Beckham’s infamous shots. Again, Beckham did not disappoint as he curled the free kick into the goal. The capacity crowd of 25,500 seemed to be both disappointed with evaporated lead as well as excited that they were getting what they paid for from Beckham.

The Galaxy seemed to be energized by equalizing the score, though RSL had a tremendous opportunity to take the lead in the 43rd minute. Kyle Beckerman lost and confused Beckham with a series of stepovers as he drove into the box, sending a low pass for Deuchar to slam home. However, the goal was called back as Deuchar was ruled offside.

The entire second half was an intense match of back and forth, with both teams appearing to be on the verge of either blowing the game wide open or crumbling in defeat. Despite this open play, both teams really only produced a couple of dangerous chances. Morales and Williams both had opportunities off of free kicks that were sent high and wide of goal, while Beckham took a free kick quickly and sent a beautiful cross in for a Landon Donovan header that was barely tipped to the side by Rimando.

Despite the continued pressure by both teams, little excitement occurred in the final minutes of the match, outside of Olave & Gordon engaging in a pushing match in the corner by RSL’s goal. RSL had to be disappointed with the draw, especially since it appeared that they had control of the match early on. Deuchar summed it up perfectly when he noted: “We’ve got to be more ruthless. We’ve got to go for the jugular and finish them off.”

RSL will get a chance for redemption next Saturday when they take on Western Conference leaders FC Dallas at home.

AT A GLANCE

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola 2 (Javier Morales 3) 6
RSL — Kenny Deuchar 2 (Javier Morales 4) 18
LA — David Beckham 2 (Landon Donovan 3, Alan Gordon 3) 36
LA — David Beckham 3 (unassisted) 40

Los Angeles Galaxy — Steve Cronin, Chris Klein, Sean Franklin, Greg Vanney, Troy Roberts, David Beckham, Joe Franchino, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, Edson Buddle (Alan Gordon 12), Landon Donovan.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran (Robbie Findley 74), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Matias Cordoba 90), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Kenny Deuchar, Fabian Espindola (Yura Movsisyan 79).

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Brandon McDonald (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
LA — Alan Gordon (caution; Professional Foul) 89
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Professional Foul) 89

3 Comments For This Post

  1. MLS en espanol Says:

    Great goals by David Beckham. I am really glad to see him performing and playing at his best. The LA Galaxy and the league needed him to step up and show the world he is still a top player.

    When he came last year, I was completely sure he could contribute to the MLS if he was healthy. I guess I was right. Larga vida para Becks y la MLS!

    Jose M. Burgos

    P.S: Do you guys have a version of “American Soccer News” in Spanish? I would be more than happy to show you my work and contribute to the site!

  2. Ian C. Says:

    So, just to come out with it…I didn’t see or hear the match so I’m not quite sure about the free kick call. Maybe i’m just a tad bitter but do you think that the ref called the free kick so he could watch good ol’ Beckem bend it? Also, though I’m very excited and, for lack of a better word, proud of the RSL boys, why can’t they hold on to a lead? It seems that when ever the other team scores only one gole they go into “UH-OH” mode and clam up. Maybe i’m not seeing the “whole game” if you will, but come on!! *tears in eyes* Why can’t every game be a 4-0 blow out? It’s much more fun for me that way.

  3. Patrick McShane Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Ian. I read somewhere after the match that people were complaining about the ref called indirect and then switched the call to direct for good ol’ Becks, but I’ll be honest that I didn’t watch the ref that closely during the actual match. Coach Kreis actually complained about that very thing in his interview this week that landed him a suspension for the next match and a fine, so it looks like you’re not alone.

    Have faith, RSL is much improved over last year and quite competitive, particularly at home.

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