GALAXY: Defense key as streak hits four
The Galaxy made it three 1-0 victories in eight days Saturday night, using more lights-out defense -- with two big saves at the finish -- and one perfect header to knock out the New England Revolution and run their winning streak to four.
Miguel Lopez scored the goal, his first in Major League Soccer, getting a glancing nod to David Beckham's rifled cross in the 69th minute, and A.J. DeLaGarza and Landon Donovan came up huge in the closing minutes to secure L.A.'s seventh shutout in 15 league matches.
“We've been good all year, with the exception of [a 4-1 loss March 26 at Real] Salt Lake,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “And we've been unlucky … losing some points on the road, as well as [a couple of] shutouts, so we've been very good, I think, over the last 10 games or so defensively.”
They've surrendered seven in the dozen games since the RSL debacle, and two were on a faulty penalty kick at D.C. United and a Sean Franklin giveaway in Philadelphia. The Galaxy (8-2-5) had a few questionable moments at Foxborough but cleaned them up after 15 minutes or so and surrendered practically nothing until a blistering sequence just into stoppage.
Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who like Donovan was playing in his last Galaxy game before heading off to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, came off his line for a long, hopeful ball into the box by Kevin Alston, but he didn't get much of a punch to it and was out of position for Zack Schilawski's half-volley from the fallout. DeLaGarza, backing up the play, made an acrobatic save, falling almost into the goal as Sean Franklin raced in ahead of Shalrie Joseph to clear the ball from the box.
Sainey Nyassi collected the ball on the right flank and sent in a cross into the goalmouth for Schilawski, whose point-blank volley crashed into the underside of the crossbar and back down. Joseph jumped over (and into) DeLaGarza to head the rebound as a crush of bodies swarmed the goal line, and Donovan, in retreat, kicked the ball to safety.
“I assume [Schilawski's volley crossed the line], to be honest,” Joseph said. “I'm 90 percent hoping it went across the line. It was so close. I saw the net shaking. I don’t know how it was shaking and the ball didn’t hit the net. It just didn’t go in.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:
BEST PLAYER: Choose from these three: Mission Viejo's Matt Reis, who was superb in the nets, turning aside several sharp shots to keep the Revs in the game. Or Lopez, whose energy up front is contagious, and who scored a dynamite goal and should have had two. Or Donovan, whose influence grew as the game wore on, and who capped a superb defensive performance with a victory-saving play near the end.
BEST GOAL: Lopez will long remember his first MLS goal, and with good reason. It was a beaut. Beckham, on the right probably 15 yards outside the box, whipped in a low, bending cross; the Argentine forward got position on Franco Coria about 12 yards outside the near post, and his glancing header landed inside the far post.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Fatigue was evident, as can be expected after 15 games in 2½ months -- and three in eight days. It didn't impact L.A.'s energy as much as its sharpness, and if not for one moment of precision -- and three more of pure luck -- this would have justly ended scoreless.
L.A.'s defense was outstanding almost the whole way, and its superior possession led to more and better chances -- it could have scored three or four easily: Omar Gonzalez nodded a Beckham corner kick -- one of 10 by L.A., to none for New England -- off the crossbar in the 24th minute, and Reis did well to parry shots by Chad Barrett in the 24th minute, Lopez in the 76th and Paolo Cardozo in the 87th.
WORTH NOTING: Beckham's assist was his seventh of the season, but he fell behind Brad Davis to No. 2 on the league list. Davis assisted both FC Dallas goals, giving him eight, in a 2-2 draw at Houston. … The Galaxy's lead in the Western Conference is seven points on Dallas (6-3-4), with Seattle (5-4-5) -- 2-1 winners at Real Salt Lake -- another two points back. ... New England is 3-5-4.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “To manage to pull nine points out of three games is remarkable. and it’s all the credit to the players,” Arena said. “They’ve been fabulous. We could see tonight we had a tired team and weren’t as sharp going forward, but their concentration was great, and their desire to compete and win were great.”
NEXT: Friday vs. D.C. United at Home Depot Center, 8 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes)
- GAME SUMMARY
Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
New England Revolution 0, Galaxy 1
LA -- Miguel Lopez (David Beckham) 61
New England Revolution: Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, Ryan Cochrane (Franco Coria, 46), A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes; Stephen McCarthy (Zach Schilawski, 74), Benny Feilhaber; Zak Boggs (Sainey Nyassi, 67), Shalrie Joseph, Chris Tierney; Rajko Lekic.
Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan, David Beckham (Michael Stephens, 79), Juninho, Mike Magee (Chris Birchall, 73); Chad Barrett (Paolo Cardozo, 62), Miguel Lopez. Unused subs: Gregg Berhalter, Frankie Hejduk, Bryan Jordan, Josh Saunders.
Yellow card: Beckham 67.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez. Att.: 21,793.