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Beckham shines as Galaxy eliminate Red Bulls to reach Western Conference Final

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CARSON, Calif. — David Beckham has enjoyed his finest season in MLS and on Thursday in the Los Angeles Galaxy's most important game of the season, Beckham led his team to Conference Final. 

Dealing with back spasms that nearly forced him out of the game in the first half, the Galaxy's midfielder sparked Los Angeles' rally as the Galaxy defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-1 advancing to the Western Conference Final against Real Salt Lake 3-1 on aggregate. Helping set up both goals on the night, there was no question of Beckham's influence on the result. 

"His effort was great tonight," said head coach Bruce Arena. "He's a player with an unbelievable desire to win and I think when we went down a goal, David helped pick up the team and his energy in the second half and earning that penalty kick was all David. I think that he was an inspiration to our team." 

Starting the match with Dax McCarty filling in for the suspended Rafa Marquez, the Red Bulls bursted out of the gate. New York struck first in the fourth minute when Luke Rodgers raced onto a Thierry Henry pass and beat Omar Gonzalez before firing a shot past Josh Saunders for the goal.

As the half wore on, the Red Bulls continued to push ahead, but were dealt a blow in the 16th minute when influential midfielder Teemu Tainio went out with a right hamstring injury. Without the Finnish midfielder, the Red Bulls midfield appeared to lose an edge that the Galaxy began to exploit.

"The injury to Tainio was a tough one for us," McCarty told reporters after the match. "We had a very good rhythm, we were passing it through LA’s midfield like they weren’t even there. But it definitely changes. Stephane [Auvray] came in a did a great job, but at the end of the day LA seized the momentum at that point." 

Los Angeles nearly suffered their own injury in the 31st minute when Beckham collided with New York midfielder Dane Richards while attempting to head down a ball. Moments later, Beckham was on the ground in clear pain and was eventually led off the field.

While it seemed that Beckham would be substituted, he re-entered the game in just four minutes later after receiving smelling salts on the sidelines. After appearing to struggle with his injury initially, Beckham put the Galaxy up on aggregate in the 42nd when he fired in a corner that Mike Magee headed past Red Bulls goalkeeper Frank Rost. 

"We started off bad and it wasn’t what we’d planned. It was disappointing to start but I think the way we adjusted ourselves showed character in our players and our team," said Beckham."We played a lot better once we got into the game, once we calmed down, once our nerves calmed down."

New York attempted to find an equalizer, the Galaxy found an insurance goal with Beckham once again serving as the catalyst. In the 74th minute, Red Bulls defender Roy Miller cut down the Englishman with a kick in the box that resulted in a penalty kick. Just a minute later, Landon Donovan buried the penalty to give Los Angeles a two-goal cushion in the series.

The Galaxy will face Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final on Sunday at 9pm EST at the Home Depot Center. Although the Galaxy are just a single match from reaching MLS Cup for the second time in three years, they are aware that three day turn-around may play a role. 

"It’s not ideal but we’re happy to be in this position, we’re happy to have this problem but ideally, I’m sure Salt Lake would be the same – they’d prefer a few days rest," said Beckham. "But it is what it is and we’re happy to be in the position we’re in."


  1. Yes, and my point was that LAs 3 goals were all due to glaring Red Bull mistakes rather than LA’s brilliance. They were very preventable.

  2. That’s true the same way its true that a corner is not a corner if the cross comes in after a short pass, which is to say, its still a set piece problem and goal directly resulting from one.

  3. Ummm the 1st goal scored in NY on Sunday by Mike Magee was NOT off a set pieces, there was a psss off the free kick, a pass back to Beckham I believe when he came in more central than where the free kick took place and THEN he made the cross so not sure how much that is not from the run of play?

    Ball was alive, no pressure on either Beckham or Magee, no excuses at that point they had time to get a man on either after free kick was tapped back for restart and then Beckham trying to reposition?

  4. Pretty good for a guy that will get you 15-18 goals. I know he only got around 12 this season but he missed a lot of time with Gold Cup and qualifiers plus an injury or two and not having Javi Morales, can’t wait to see him next season with Morales healthy a whole season, possible Golden Boot winner based on Wondo’s production last two year’s and this year’s winner of DeRo

  5. I agree. Omar had some poor moments wide with Franklin playing as a mid for much of the match. He didn’t do anything to make the first 11, but nothing so bad he shouldn’t be called up with Ream and Orozco.

  6. Beckham was in great pain for most of the 2nd half. NYRB may have noticed as they took shots at his back whenever they could. There may be some doubt about him starting against RSL.

  7. If you are going to evaluate a defender, you need to take a look at all aspects of the role. Ream continuously lost in the air to both Barrett and Keane who were able to flick on the long kicks with impunity. Omar dominated in the air. Reams passes out of the back were short and simple, Omar played longer balls, switched ball and balls to the feet of the forwards. True Omar did have a lower connect percentage but he played more effective balls. The Galaxy held a much higher line than NY which depends upon the ability of the midfield to apply pressure to the ball. When Henry dropped into the midfield NY had numbers up. Omar should have tracked Henry all the way into the midfield as he and AJ began to do later when the Galaxy controlled the game. Instead, Omar and AJ were caught flat and split. Backe has taken a lot of responsiblity away from Ream so he no longer is required to track forwards into the midfield, reducing the number of decisions he has to make. Finally Omar and AJ both have been given the freedom and responsibility to push the ball forward when they have space in front of them. Omar makes runs all the way into the offensive third. Ream isn’t trusted with to do those sorts of things. Omar is learning to be a complete player, to do the things top flight international players need to do. Ream has been relegated to a much less responsible role. Hopefully Ream will be given the freedom to learn, but Omar is miles ahead at the moment.

  8. I’d say Lando dominated in the second half, not with attacks on goal but with orchestrating possession and defending. He single-handedly saved the game on the Dane Richards cross, tracking back 80 yards to put the ball behind in front of Rogers. LD has set aside attacking duties so other players can express themselves. I don’t think he is fully recovered from injury and comfortable. His leadership is the heart and soul of the Galaxy.


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