Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win over Chicago today means they have pulled level in the Western Conference with the Galaxy on 47 points, so LA will have extra motivation with a win and three points tonight to keep their neck in front of the Utah club as we enter the season’s home stretch.
Chicago’s loss also means the first of three results the Galaxy need to go their way this weekend to qualify for the playoffs is now a reality. The Galaxy now need to beat United tonight and hope Chivas USA disposes of Kansas City Sunday back here in Carson.
Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena tonight will coach against the former player he signed to his first professional contract, Interim United Coach Ben Olsen.
David Beckham is not yet ready to start after returning to MLS last week and is on the bench alongside Eddie Lewis, Chris Birchall, Michael Stephens, Tristan Bowen and Mike Magee.
Tweeted the Galaxy’s Tom Payne: “David should get 30 to 45 (minutes) we hope.”
Central defender Gregg Berhalter, who was jogging alone around the field before the players came out to warm-up remains sidelined with what has variously been described as a neck or viral issue.
The biggest (and only) change to the starting lineup is that young central defender Yohance Marshall makes his MLS debut in place of Leonardo, who culminated several questionable performances with a clanger that led to the lone Columbus Crew goal in last week’s win over Columbus and is dropped from the gameday roster entirely.
Here’s the Galaxy XI; Donovan Ricketts, Todd Dunivant, Yohance Marshall, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin; Dema Kovalenko, Juninho, Alex Cazumba, Landon Donovan; Jovan Kirovski, Edson Buddle.
United has a lengthy injury list, which grew longer later in the week when veteran Jaime Moreno, who is retiring at season’s end, was denied a final game against the Galaxy in Carson after coming down with an upper respitory infection.
Branko Boskovic, United’s designated player, starts on the bench for D.C., incidentally.
The game is live on Fox Soccer Channel.
After 30 minutes we’ve had muffed shots, poor defending and bad officiating here at the HDC – a typical MLS game, really, I can hear the cynics saying.
There’s been no clear cut chances from either team though, as the game slides into mediocrity.
Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez just picked up a 39th minute yellow card after bringing down Pablo Hernandez. That means he is suspended because of yellow card accumulation for a second time this season and will miss Friday’s game against New York.
The highlight of the half came two minutes before the end of the first 45 minutes when Donovan Ricketts failed to hold a Pablo Hernandez shot. The ball squirted through his arms, but Ricketts managed to scramble back in time to prevent it trickling across the goal line.
Other than that there wasn’t much to recommend this game so far. The Galaxy need to pick it up in the second half against the league’s worst team. First task: crisper passing.
Key stat: Galaxy lead D.C. in shots on target 3 to 1.
United DP Branko Boskovich came on at the half for Stephen King. No changes for the Galaxy.
It’s a switch of former Manchester United players as David Beckham enters the game in the 52nd minute, replacing Jovan Kirovski.
An untidy goalmouth scramble in front of the Galaxy net resulted in Andy Najar putting United up by one in the 60th minute. Bit of a comedy of errors in the defense with Ricketts failing to shut down the play and defenders not exactly helping much.
United are looking for a third road win on the season.
A defensive mix-up between United defenders Dejan Jakovic and sub Clyde Simms about 25 yards out allowed Landon Donovan to skate in, steal the ball and score the equalizer in the 81st minute.
Two Landon Donovan goals five minutes apart has put the Galaxy up 2-1 in the 86th minute. Sean Franklin put the ball out wide on the right to sub Tristan Bowen. United’s defense allowed his cross to bounce in the box and reach a lurking Donovan at the far post.
That goal has allowed Donovan to eclipse Cobi Jones as the leading goalscorer in Galaxy history with 71 goals.
Galaxy 2 United 1
I think United Coach Ben Olsen just summed up the prevailing feeling for D.C., kicking his bench in frustration at the final whistle before having a few words with his former mentor Bruce Arena.
I’m not sure the Galaxy deserved to win this one, but good teams are able to eke out results even when they don’t play particularly well.
The final score could have been much different had Boskovich’s 16 yard shot in the 85th minute not been denied in a one on one by Ricketts, too.