Galaxy Advance After Exciting Showdown With New York

November 4, 2011

Carson, CA -- On Thursday night, following a thrilling game in New York the previous Sunday which saw a 1-0 Galaxy win and a post-game brawl resulting in the suspensions of Rafael Marquez and Juninho, the Galaxy and Red Bulls met for the second and final game of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Just 4 minutes into the game the Galaxy faithful were stunned when a New York goal evened the series goal aggregate at 1-1.

Thierry Henry received the ball about 40 yards away from goal and made a quality pass to Luke Rodgers. Rodgers was already on a run towards goal and was able to split the defense of Omar Gonzalez and AJ DeLaGarza before scoring past Josh Saunders.

Rodgers followed up his goal with typical Red Bulls’ conduct, which Landon Donovan and other Galaxy players had characterized as “disgraceful” following New York's Game 1 exhibitions.  For good measure, two minutes later, Rodgers kicked an out-of-bounds ball into the crowd out of frustration that nearly hit a woman squarely in the face at a dangerous speed.

LA fought back as Beckham took a quality shot in the 9th minute, but his bullet just missed the upper right corner of goal.

More importantly, the LA defense would stay in the game following the shocking goal in the opening minutes, as the defense adequately dealt with multiple New York corner kicks.

As the first half began to develop, David Beckham emerged as the Galaxy's leader and best player on the pitch by (1) giving up his body to fight for loose balls; (2) swerving in pinpoint crosses into the box; and (3) demonstrating his will to win in the 31st minute when he went up for a loose ball in the air against New York’s Dane Richards and received an elbow to his season-long back injury.

It appeared for the next 4 minutes that he would need to be subbed out of the game, but when coaches Bruce Arena and Dave Sarachan asked him if he wanted to come out of the game, Beckham would have none of it.

In the 42nd minute, Beckham delivered a typical world-class corner kick that Mike Magee brilliantly headed into goal, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The goal gave the Galaxy a 2-1 lead in the series aggregate, with each goal in the series for the Galaxy a Beckham-Magee link-up.

Other highlights in the first half included the play of Robbie Keane, who had excellent opportunities to score or create a scoring chance for the Galaxy in the 19th, 21st, and 38th minutes.

With both New York and LA looking to score a crucial second goal early in the second half, Beckham put the pressure on his opponents by crossing the ball into a dangerous area on a free-kick in the 51st minute.  Later, Rodgers almost scored his second goal in the 57th minute on a shot that hit the outside of the goal’s net.

Perhaps the play of the game was not a goal, but instead was the hustle of Landon Donovan in the 54th minute.

Following a Galaxy free-kick, the Red Bulls went on a breakaway as Henry continued his world-class play with a sprint down the field and a pass to Richards. Richards took a dribble and then crossed the ball into the 6-yard box where a sprinting Rodgers was waiting to score on goal. Only problem for New York was that Donovan went in a full 70 yard dash past other Galaxy players and caught up to Rodgers just in time to deflect the pass out of bounds.

In the 73rd minute, the Galaxy was able to clinch the series versus New York when David Beckham fought off Roy Miller for the ball and forced Miller to commit a reckless foul in the box, giving LA a penalty kick. Donovan stepped up to the penalty kick and coolly slotted the ball into goal to give the Galaxy the series win.

With the Galaxy’s series win against New York, the stage is set for LA and Real Salt Lake to face off for the Western Conference Final on Sunday night at the Home Depot Center.

In the 2009 MLS Cup in Seattle, Real Salt Lake beat the Galaxy in a heartbreaking penalty kick shootout. Will the Galaxy find redemption against RSL in 2011 with a chance to host the MLS Cup in Los Angeles on the line?

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

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