Sunday, March 20, 2011
GALAXY: A lucky draw in lousy conditions
By Scott French
The conditions that greeted the Galaxy for their opener in Seattle earlier this week might not have been conducive to good possession soccer, but they weren't worse than what L.A. had to endure in its home opener Sunday.
Heavy winds and frigid rain made Home Depot Center's big, green space almost as difficult to traverse as the slippery artificial turf in Seattle, and the Galaxy's dominance wasn't worth more than a 1-1 draw -- and could have been gained considerably less.
L.A. saw three goals waved off, New England twice hit the goal frame, and Juninho's second goal of the season, late in the first half, answered Shalrie Joseph's third-minute header as L.A. went atop the Western Conference with a 1-0-1 record.
A quick look at L.A.'s victory:
BEST PLAYERS: Joseph's status as MLS's premier central midfielder is in no danger. The Grenada-born star was the dominant figure for a Revolution side that offered little else and rarely made much from what he provided.
David Beckham was particularly sharp on the ball, whipping in several crosses that caused Reis fits and an 11th-minute free kick that the New England keeper barely kept from the upper-right corner.
BEST GOAL: Juninho's goal featured a beautiful finish, a bullet from the top of the box that left Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis no chance. It was product of a mistake, of course, a poor clearance after a corner kick by New England rookie defender A.J. Soares.
Juninho's first goal, in Tuesday's victory, followed two mistakes by Seattle's Erik Friberg -- a giveaway and poor positional defense afterward -- and Joseph's header from Marko Perovic's cross was enabled by L.A.'s inability to close space when Perovic's corner kick was knocked back wide to him nor mark Joseph at the far post.
BIGGEST STRUGGLES: Leonardo struggled at the back, letting Joseph step inside him to nod in the first goal and committing the turnover that led to Joseph's blast off the right post in the 65th minute. …
Too many L.A. goals didn't count. Two were waved off on offside calls -- a Mike Magee finish in 23rd and Juan Pablo Angel's would-be winner in stoppage -- and replays indicated the decisions were just. The other, by Juninho after Reis dropped a Beckham cross in the 16th minute, was robbery: Magee went up with Reis for the cross, but he clearly didn't foul him. At least in nobody's eyes but referee Hilario Grajeda's.
WORTH NOTING: Official attendance was 27,000 -- a sellout -- but the conditions kept thousands of fans away. Those who showed up were provided blue rain ponchos. … Defender Omar Gonzalez (sprained shoulder) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (hamstring strain) were not on the 18-game roster. … Forward Miguel Lopez was dropped from the 18 for Angel. … Paolo Cardozo made his MLS debut, playing the final half-hour.
NEXT: Next Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (TV: Prime Ticket, 10:30 p.m.)
Home Depot Center, Carson
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant; David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan; Chad Barrett (Juan Pablo Angel, 63), Mike Magee (Paolo Cardozo, 63). Unused substitutes: Frankie Hejduk, Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski, Brian Perk, Michael Stephens.
Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 1
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (Marko Perovic) 3
LA -- Juninho 39
New England: Matt Reis; Darrius Barnes, Franco Coria, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney; Stephen McCarthy, Pat Phelan; Zak Boggs, Shalrie Joseph, Marko Perovic (Kenny Mansally, 22); Zack Schilawski (Sainey Nyassi, 74).
Yellow cards: None.
Referee: Hilario Grajeda. Att.: 27,000.