Galaxy Stay Disciplined For 1-0 Win Over Union

April 3, 2011

Carson, CA -- Following a 4-1 road loss against Real Salt Lake last weekend in which LA played without leaders Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, and Donovan Ricketts, the Galaxy returned home ready with their full lineup to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night before a crowd of 25,000.

One of the storylines in the Galaxy's season thus far has been the team's tendency to allow goals in the opening minutes of a game. In fact, it happened last week in Salt Lake with 2 goals in the first 15 minutes.

As the game began against the Union it was clear that the Galaxy were defensive-minded with every player doing defensive work. In the 6th minute, the Union earned a close-range free-kick, but a dangerous ball was headed out by the Galaxy’s Juan Pablo Angel, leaving others to lead the break.

After the first 20 minutes, with the Galaxy staying focused on defense to quash any early offensive production by the Union, LA became a little more offensive-minded with two David Beckham free-kicks in the 22nd minute and the 33rd minute.

In that 33rd minute, Beckham delivered a flawless free-kick from about 32 yards out that Galaxy defender Leonardo headed into goal from 7 yards away. The goal was Leonardo’s first as a member of the Galaxy and MLS, and it was Beckham’s second assist this season.

The remainder of the first half would see barely any Union offensive attack, as the Galaxy defense remained a focal point.

Meanwhile, LA threatened for a second goal with a driven shot by Beckham in the 36th minute; a corner-kick in the 36th minute; and a free-kick earned just outside the 18-yard box following Landon Donovan’s foul-drawing, hard work near the end line.

The second half of this matchup would be a very different game, as the scoring opportunities for both teams increased, and head referee Paul Ward somehow figured out a way to hand out 8 yellow cards and 2 red cards -- all in the second half.

In the 47th minute, Sebastien Le Toux created a scoring opportunity between two Galaxy defenders, but Ricketts got to the ball before Le Toux. Seconds later, Miguel Lopez took a dangerous shot from about 20 yards away that nearly scored.

The back-and-forth action continued when former Galaxy player and current Union forward Carlos Ruiz almost connected with the ball on a cross in the 50th minute. Later, Donovan would lay off a great pass to the Galaxy’s Juninho, who fired a shot that hit the cross-bar in the 52nd minute.

However, moments later in the 53rd minute, the complexion of the game would change when the Galaxy’s Chris Birchall was ejected with a red card.

As the replays indicated and as Birchall explained, the Union’s Ruiz and Birchall were both running for the ball and jockeying for position. Ruiz stepped up into Birchall’s face and Birchall shoved Ruiz for the encounter.

After the game, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena would state that the red card against Birchall was "probably not warranted," that it was "not a game that demanded a lot of cards," and that the referee used "poor judgment" in the match.

Additionally, Birchall said that he accidentally fell into Ruiz, prompting the tussle, and expressed his disagreement with Ward handing out 10 cards in one half of play.

Following this incident, Paul Ward began to issue yellow cards at a frantic pace for the remainder of the game.

In the 60th minute, Ricketts received a yellow card without a warning for what Ward perceived as taking too long to recover a ball that went out of bounds for a goal kick. In the 90th minute and 92nd minute, Beckham and Donovan received yellow cards for an amusing delay of game and a clean defensive effort respectively.

Neither side would score in the second half despite quality chances for each team.

In the 78th minute, the Union’s Ruiz headed a crossed ball on target, but pushed the defenders enough to draw a whistle. In the 80th minute, the Union’s McInerney and Le Toux shot on goal from a Ruiz pass in the 18-yard box, but they could not convert.

For LA, they would have chances in the 67th minute with a Gonzalez header on a Beckham corner-kick, and in the 75th minute with a superb Donovan cross to Angel who headed the ball from 7 yards away.  The Galaxy would not convert either attempt.

The match between LA and Philadelphia did not conclude very peacefully either, as more cards were given out, and an altercation arose during stoppage time which resulted in the ejection of the Union’s McInerney.

The 1-0 win gives the Galaxy a jump-up in the Western Conference standings to second place, and drops the Union to second place in the Eastern Conference. The Galaxy now embark on their longest road trip of the season, with 3 away games beginning at DC United.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for

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