BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif –The LA Galaxy earned MLS their first points in the World Football Challenge on Sunday falling on penalties to Manchester City in front of 24,897 at the Home Depot Center.
Mario Balotelli and Mike Magee provided the scoring in a lively match that went to penalty kicks with Manchester City taking it 7-6 after a World Football Challenge mandated Penalty Kick shootout. The Galaxy acquitted themselves well throughout the match, consistently challenging City despite having Landon Donovan sit out with a calf strain.
With Donovan out and due to the fact the team played in a league match on Wednesday, it was up to Los Angeles' youngsters to perform and after the match, head coach Bruce Arena was pleased that much of his team got experience against high level talent.
"It was constructive for both teams, Man City wanted to move some players along and allow them to see extended minutes," said Arena after the match. "We had the opportunity to play 22 players as well as some young players, who haven't had a lot of playing time this year so that was a really positive for us."
City opened the scoring in the when Bryan Jordan brought down Micah Richards in the box allowing Balotelli to step up and scored the first goal off a penalty kick. Balotelli nearly tallied again several moments later when the Italian found himself alone on net, but attempted an audacious right footed back heel that went painfully wide. The mercurial forward was removed immediately from the match by a furious Roberto Mancini following his painful display.
After wholesale changes in the second half, the Galaxy came out and began to test the City net. The Galaxy got on the board in the 54th minute when Mike Magee fired a looping shot that beat City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Minutes later, the Galaxy nearly took the lead when amid pressure, left back Todd Dunivant nearly placed a rebound in the City net before Hart covered on the chance.
As the match wore on, both teams found chances difficult to come by, but the match was sealed for penalties after Galaxy back up goalkeeper Brian Perk stopped a John Guidetti shot from close range. City finally earned the glory during the shoot out as Hart made two saves and buried the winning penalty to allow City to go undefeated during the WFC. Although City earned themselves a victory, the main questions were surrounding the Balotelli incident.
"We always need to be professional and for me the case was [Balotelli] wasn't professional so I changed him," Mancini told reporters after the match. "He knows that he made a mistake and that he should be serious, when you have a chance to score, you should score, but for me it is finished. I hope that this will be an important lesson for him."
Manchester City departs back for England with three victories in the World Football Challenge, but will now prepare for their match against arch-rivals Manchester United in the Community Shield on August 7th. The Galaxy return to league play and travel to Canada to face off against the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday.
Much was made during the game of Man City using this particular match to round into form ahead of the grueling Premiership season, but it was the Galaxy, who felt particularly invigorated. With their own difficult stretch in the CONCACAF Champions League looming, Arena felt that this match provided the Galaxy reserves the needed experience to compete going forward.
"We're going to have to be playing three games a week for an extended period of time so we'll be going deep into our roster," said Arena. "We'll have to play with around 18 players and today there were indications that we've got some players that we can use."