Los Angeles Galaxy Crush Kansas City, 4-1

May 15, 2011

Carson, CA -- On Saturday night, the Galaxy faced Sporting Kansas City at the Home Depot Center in a tale of two teams headed in different directions.  LA came into the game as the top team in the Western Conference, while Kansas City entered at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in MLS.

As the game was set to begin, news broke that the Galaxy’s ace goalkeeper, Donovan Ricketts, was a last-minute scratch from the starting lineup due to illness.

However, when you are one of the best teams in MLS you have multiple threats available to play.  So, as he did in the 2009 MLS Cup and many other games, Josh Saunders stepped in as starting goalkeeper to shut down the opposition in this game.

The matchup between the Galaxy and Kansas City opened up with the Galaxy dominating possession of the ball, as Kansas City rarely established offense in the final third of their formation.

The first legitimate chance of the game came in the 15th minute when Landon Donovan passed the ball to the Galaxy’s striker, Miguel Lopez, who was alone in the 18-yard box with one Kansas City defender and the goalkeeper, Eric Kronberg.  Lopez fired at goal with his left foot as the defender guarded him and Kronberg rushed out towards Lopez, but the shot missed the top corner by a couple feet.

The Galaxy would later have two more chances to score.  In the 28th minute, LA’s David Beckham sent in a corner-kick that Chad Barrett headed towards goal, but KC’s Kronberg was in the right place to make the save.

Then in the 33rd minute, Beckham played in a great pass to Donovan at the top of the 18-yard box.  Donovan made a quality heel-flick pass to Mike Magee, who was in the box, but Magee was unable to make a shot on goal as he was knocked down by a KC defender. Head referee Baldomero Toledo declined to make a call on the play.

In the 39th minute, Kansas City would be the first team to score.

Milos Stojcev turned to face LA’s Todd Dunivant about 25 yards away from goal.  Stojcev sent in a low cross into the 6-yard box towards Kei Kamara, who was being guarded by Omar Gonzalez.  Gonzalez was able to get a foot onto the ball before Kamara, but not enough to deflect the ball outside of the goal.  The ball rolled past a reaching Saunders and gave KC the 1-0 lead.

LA wouldn’t waste any time retaliating, as Beckham earned a penalty kick in the 43rd minute when KC’s Roger Espinoza made an irresponsible and reckless challenge with a cleat to Beckham’s upper thigh.  Landon Donovan would convert the penalty kick to give the Galaxy a 1-1 tie before halftime, putting him in fourth place for all-time goals scored in MLS history.

Fans not in their seats at the start of the second half missed out, as the Galaxy took a 2-1 lead in the blink of an eye.

Just 30 seconds into the half, Sean Franklin threw the ball into Donovan who quickly turned and sprinted towards goal with the ball.  Chad Barrett received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and one-touched a pass back to Donovan who scored with a shot from the side of his foot.

Kansas City would valiantly try to respond with more attacking in the second half.

In the 58th minute, Davy Arnaud delivered a quality cross into the box that required Saunders to charge and punch out the ball.  Then, minutes later in the 62nd, Kei Kamara passed the ball to Graham Zusi, who had a great chance to score with only Saunders in front of him.  However, Zusi shot the ball wide of goal as Saunders influenced the timing of the shot.

Kansas City would pay for those missed scoring chances because an attacking Galaxy lineup found Barrett in the center of the field.  Barrett earned his second assist of the game with a headed ball over the top of the KC defense that dropped to the feet of a streaking Juan Pablo Angel.

Angel, who subbed in for Lopez in the 61st minute, got in front of the KC defense and scored on goal with a shot past the charging Kronberg, giving the Galaxy a 3-1 lead.  The goal was Angel’s second of the 2011 season, and his first at the Home Depot Center since joining the Galaxy this year.

In the 73rd minute, Saunders would continue to impress as goalkeeper with a save on a dangerous cross from KC that he caught in the air.

During the final 20 minutes of the game, Sporting Kansas City became frustrated with the night’s performance.  KC tried to get back into the game with physical play on the Galaxy, but head referee Toledo was properly monitoring the game and calling fouls on KC.

In the 87th minute, Beckham stepped up to a free-kick that would result in a MLS Goal-of-the-Year candidate and probably Beckham’s finest free-kick as a Galaxy player.

Standing 25-yards away from goal, Beckham delivered a shot to the near post that Kronberg was guarding.  The shot flew past the flying goalkeeper and landed in the upper-corner for a goal that reminded soccer fans why Beckham is legendary.  The free-kick gave the LA a 4-1 win and capped off a dominant victory for the home team.

    Post-Game Quotes:

1. Bruce Arena said that the penalty kick in the 44th minute was a legitimately earned penalty and that it was "an important goal" for the team at that stage of the game.

2. Omar Gonzalez stated that the KC goal was just a bit unlucky and that he put the goal behind him in order to "stay focused on winning the game."

3. David Beckham said that he "knew" his free-kick was going into goal when he hit the ball, and praised the performances by Juninho, Donovan, and Barrett.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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