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Tuesday, February 7, 2012
GALAXY: Buddle's return a plus in loss

By Scott French



CARSON -- Edson Buddle made his first game appearance in a Galaxy shirt in 15 months Tuesday, and although he never got a real sniff at goal -- and L.A. was beaten rather handily -- it was a good day all around.

The big striker, re-signed last week after a year in the German second division, is going to add to the Galaxy's suddenly league-best attack, but his best chance in a 4-1 loss to Portland on L.A.'s training field at Home Depot Center was a looping, off-balance header that didn't trouble Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the least.

Nothing really bothered Portland, which was 2-0 up by the 10th minute, and was cruising toward a shutout before Dan Keat's bicycle kick after a corner kick wasn't cleared in the 80th minute.

The score was immaterial -- preseason is all about “building fitness” and “evaluating players,” says Galaxy coach Bruce Arena -- but stung nonetheless.

“I've never really been a big fan of preseason friendlies ...,” said David Beckham, who played the first half after missing the Galaxy's preseason opener Friday, a 7-2 rout of the L.A. Blues. “Today's was one of those games where the result's not great, but I think, more importantly, it's about getting our fitness. The big games start in a month or so. We should be back to fully fit by then, but you still want to do well in these games.”

Buddle, who scored 19 goals for the Galaxy in 2010 and netted nine in 33 games last year for FC Ingolstadt, looked fit and confident atop the Galaxy's customary 4-4-2 alignment, but L.A. didn't create many opportunities.

“It felt good. It's good to see the team; they're moving the ball well,” he said afterward. “The young guys have gotten a lot better, and I'm just happy to be a part of it. A different result, and I would have been in a better mood, but there are things to work on, and that's good.”

Beckham was just happy to see Buddle.

“I've always loved Edson as a player and a person, and to have him back in the locker room and, obviously, to have him on the field as well,” Beckham said. “I read something the other day about him saying it feels like he's never left. That's what it's like with Edson. He's such a talented player and strong player for us now.”

Beckham and Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, again impressive, teamed up for the first time in midfield. It has the makings of a wonderful partnership, but Juninho's return on loan from São Paulo, announced just as the game was kicking off, adds another element to the Galaxy's growing list of options in the middle.

IN THE GAME: Portland was in charge almost from the start. Bright Dike provided an eighth-minute lead by powerfully heading home Cameroonian trialist Franck Songo'o's corner kick, and it was 2-0 less than a minute later. Songo'o overran Todd Dunivant, trying to shepherd a Timbers long ball to goalkeeper Josh Saunders, and fed Jorge Perlaza for an easy finish.

Kalif Alhassan's through ball for James Marcelin, with the Galaxy down to 10 men as Keat received treatment for a cut, made it 3-0 in the 67th minute. Mamadou “Futty” Danso converted an 85th-minute penalty for the Timbers' goal after a bitterly contested hand-ball call against Kyle Nakazawa.

The Galaxy started something akin to a first-choice lineup, but Mike Magee, who is dealing with a thigh issue, was out, and Sean Franklin was stationed on the right side of midfield, in front of Bryan Jordan. Paolo Cardozo was the withdrawn forward under Buddle. Rookie Tommy Meyer got another first half in central defense.

LEONARDO UPDATE: Brazilian center back Leonardo, who spent the past two years with the Galaxy on loan and was acquired from São Paulo on a free transfer, was due to arrive in L.A. on Tuesday evening. He missed most of last season because of torn knee ligaments and is still rehabbing the injury. How soon until he'll be ready to play?

“Don't know until we see him,” Arena said. “He left [for Brazil] in early December, after the [MLS Cup] championship game, and we'll see how he's improved in his rehab on his knee. If he's making the kind of progress we think he had made, we should be able to get him back in April, we hope.”

WORTH NOTING: Among those on hand: Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck, the sure-to-be No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. His dad used to be Houston's GM, and he met afterward with Timbers coach John Spencer, a former Dynamo assistant coach. ... Other notables watching included 1994 U.S. World Cup backliners Alexi Lalas and Fernando Clavijo and former Galaxy midfielder Kyle Martino. Lalas (ESPN), a former Galaxy defender and GM, and Martino (Fox) are TV analysts. ... Montreal trained on the adjoining field during the game. The Impact face Houston on Wednesday morning at HDC. Home Depot Center University Field 1 (Carson)
Galaxy 1, Portland Timbers 4

P -- Bright Dike (Franck Songo'o) 8
P -- Jorge Perlaza (Franck Songo'o) 9
P -- James Marcelin (Kalif Alhassan) 67
LA -- Dan Keat 80
P -- Mamadou Danso pen. 85

Galaxy: Josh Saunders (Nick Noble, 46); Bryan Jordan (J.T. Murray, 46), Tommy Meyer (Bryan Gaul, 46), A.J. DeLaGarza (Andrew Boyens, 46), Todd Dunivant (Justin Davies, 46; Dustin McCarty, 78); Sean Franklin (Hector Jimenez, 46), Marcelo Sarvas (Kenney Walker, 46), David Beckham (Dan Keat, 46), Michael Stephens (Kyle Nakazawa, 46); Edson Buddle (Jack McBean, 46), Paolo Cardozo (Adam Cristman, 46).

Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins; Lovel Palmer (Steve Purdy, 46), Eric Brunner (Mamadou Danso, 46), Hanyer Mosquera (Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 46), Rodney Wallace (Mike Chabala, 46); Franck Songo'o (Kalif Alhassan, 46), Jack Jewsbury (James Marcelin, 46), Eric Alexander (Freddie Braun, 46), Diego Chara (Lance Davids, 46); Jorge Perlaza (Brent Richards, 46), Bright Dike (Sebastian Rincon, 78).

Yellow cards: None.

Referee: Baldomero Toledo. Att.: c. 25. Record: 1-1-0; vs. MLS: 0-1-0
Feb. 3 vs. L.A. Blues (USL Pro): W, 7-2
(Sarvas pen. 12, Dunivant 29, Cristman 36, 45, Cardozo 42, McBean 63, Nakazawa pen. 85)
Feb. 7 vs. Portland: L 1-4 (Keat 80)

Remaining games
Feb. 10 vs. Houston at Home Depot Center
Feb. 14 vs. Montreal at Home Depot Center
Feb. 16 vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center
Feb. 22 vs. New England at Tucson, Ariz.
Feb. 25 vs. Real Salt Lake at Tucson, Ariz.
Feb. 29 vs. New York at Tucson, Ariz.
March 3 Desert Diamond Cup final/third-place game at Tucson, Ariz.