Los Angeles Galaxy Fall to the New York Red Bulls, 2-0

September 25, 2010

Carson, California -- Juan Pablo Angel’s penalty kick in 60th minute proved to be too much for the Los Angeles Galaxy, as they fell to the New York Red Bulls 2-0, Friday night at the Home Depot Center.

The game had been billed as a clash between two of the elite teams of the MLS, and their respective stars. With New York's trio of Angel, Rafa Marquez, and Thierry Henry, and the Galaxy's duo of Landon Donovan and David Beckham, there certainly were enough big names to go around.

For Beckham, the game was his chance to put his fitness to the test against a quality team. Since returning from his Achilles' tendon injury, Beckham had stepped onto the pitch only twice, each time playing limited minutes as a substitute.

Unfortunately, some of the game's fanfare took a hit earlier in the week when it was confirmed that Henry, the French star and all-time scoring leader for Arsenal, would not be making the trip out West due to a right knee MCL sprain suffered in a September loss to Real Salt Lake.

Despite Henry’s absence and Marquez’s third straight game of unimpressive play, the capacity crowd of 27,000 was nevertheless able to witness New York play up to its potential thanks to the controlled persistence of 22 year-old defender Tim Ream, veteran forward Juan Pablo Angel, and midfielders Mehdi Ballouchy and Dane Richards.

The Galaxy started on the ball and immediately attempted a deep pass which was headed out by a New York defender. That earned LA a Beckham corner kick, but the early threat was easily cleared by the Red Bulls defense. Ultimately, the anticlimactic conclusion to this first scoring opportunity would define the rest of the game for the Galaxy.

In the 8th minute, Juninho attempted the Galaxy’s first shot on goal from outside the box, but the strike was powered wide of the post.

New York's subsequent goal kick then produced a scoring chance for Ballouchy, but the cagey Juninho made a solid defensive clearance of the ball before Ballouchy could square a shot.

The Red Bulls established a block of possession leading into the 14th minute and settled a ball again into Ballouchy, who measured out a strike from about 37 yards. The kick forced Los Angeles goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to make a diving save.

Meanwhile, Galaxy stars Donovan and Edson Buddle had difficulty finding space due to the Red Bulls' discipline and close marking. As a result, LA was forced into a short passing game moving in and out of their opponents half, looking for openings.

The lack of touches by Donovan was particularly noticeable, given that he scored twice in the final half of last week’s DC United game. That perhaps led to a moment of frustration in the 31st minute, as Donovan engaged in a stare-down and verbal exchange with Red Bulls keeper Bouna Coundoul.

Following a cross by Beckham into open space, a charging Donovan touched the ball into the top of the box. Coundoul quickly moved off his line and made a timely play on the ball at Donovan’s feet. Both players took umbrage at the resulting contact, with Coundoul providing Donovan with a lecture-wagging of his index finger.

Not be intimidated, Donovan stepped within a few inches of the taller Coundoul and briefly exchanged what could only be assumed to be a range of competitive niceties.

The Galaxy unfortunately failed to rally around Donovan’s show of grit, as a defensive breakdown on the ball in their half allowed a shot by Joel Lindpere in the 36th minute. Lindpere’s attempt ricocheted off the side post, and an opportunistic Dane Richards caught the ball off his left foot and sent it into the net for a 1-0 lead.

In the second half, the Galaxy did not appear any more organized than in the first stanza, as a yellow card was issued to A.J. DeLaGarza for a reckless tackle of the Red Bull’s Roy Miller.

The Galaxy then continued their undisciplined trend in the 59th minute when Richards took a sideline pass and moved it deep into the Galaxy zone. Beaten by the accelerating Richards, LA Defender Yohance Marshall locked arms with Richards in the box, taking him down for a clear penalty.

Seconds later, Red Bulls captain Angel approached the ball with a stutter step and placed the penalty kick in the right corner -- leaving an outstretched Ricketts diving to the left in futility.

The Galaxy would later have one of their most promising scoring chances with 24 minutes left on a Beckham free kick from 32-yards out. His precisely directed shot toward the upper left corner of the goal was calmly punched away by Coundoul.

One of the game's more interesting moments came when the Red Bulls subbed out Rafa Marquez in the 69th minute and replaced him with Carl Robinson.

Marquez was the Captain of Mexico’s 2010 World Cup team and scored a goal in Mexico’s opening game against South Africa, but as he walked off the pitch, a resounding chorus of boos drowned out any applause. Obviously, the disdain for the Red Bulls, the score, and Marquez’s uninspired level of play, did not sit well with the fans.

In an effort to inject some pace into the game, the Galaxy subbed out Dema Kovalenko for forward Tristan Bowan in the 77th minute.

The move appeared to pay off when Bowen was fed a pass with an opportunity to score in the 81st minute, but his first touch failed, causing him to lose possession. He attempted to redeem himself four minutes later when he took the Galaxy’s second shot on goal, but the strike was handled effortlessly by Coundoul.

Overall, the Galaxy never put together a serious threat against the Red Bulls the entire night. Coundoul finished the game with three saves and a well deserved shutout.

What We Learned From This Game

The 2-0 win over the league-leading Galaxy puts New York in a tie with the Columbus Crew for the Eastern Conference lead. More importantly, it sent a signal to the rest of the league that even without Henry, and with Marquez having a mediocre game, the Red Bulls still have the capacity to compete with anybody.

As for the Galaxy, this was a humbling loss at home.

Los Angeles had plenty of opportunities in the box, but failed to capitalize. Worse yet, they lost their patience and composure after Angel’s penalty kick, forcing the issue offensively in the latter part of the game. Should the Galaxy expect to be one of the last two teams fighting for the MLS Cup in November, they will need to improve their approach in the final weeks of the season.

Post Game Notes

1. Omar Gonzalez was not available to play due to a suspension. His suspension will end on September 25th.

2. David Beckham picked up his second yellow card in 3 games on a sliding tackle made on Salou Ibrahim in the 87th. Beckham played the entire game.

3. The Galaxy fell to 15-6-5 with the loss. The Red Bulls improved to 13-8-5.

By Mike Chavez
Contributing Writer to TheDailySportsHerald.com

Photographs by Tri Le
Photography Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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