Monday, March 21, 2011
GALAXY: Deserving more in rain, wind
By Scott French
David Beckham couldn't remember the last time he'd played in such abysmal conditions. Certainly not last week in Seattle, when it was wet and slick -- and on that horrid artificial turf, too.
“It was tougher tonight,” he said after the Galaxy drew, 1-1, with New England in their home opener Sunday night. “Because you had the wind, you had the rain -- the constant heavy rain, not just the drizzle.”
There certainly was a lot of rain, so much so that the box L.A. relentlessly attacked in the second half was something like a Slip 'n Slide, as Juan Pablo Angel and Todd Dunivant can attest. That didn't help the Galaxy, who failed to get what they deserved from their second Major League Soccer game of the season because of several errors, most of them their own.
That was unfortunate, for the Galaxy played as well as possible in the whistling rain, scored four goals -- three of them waved off, one unjustly -- and made a far greater impression than in their victory Tuesday night against a superior foe.
“I thought we played well. We could've scored a bunch of goals,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Fell short there, but overall, the passing of the ball, creating chances, defending was good. We just didn't get that second goal, but I thought we did a lot of good things tonight, and overall it was a positive performance."
The big pluses:
Another goal by Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who blasted the 39th-minute equalizer past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis from 20 yards, a more explosive finish than on his superb tally in the 1-0 triumph at Seattle.
Excellent service from Beckham, who isn't yet in prime playing shape but is delivering world-class balls that came close to finding the net (his brilliant free kick toward the upper-right corner in the 11th minute that Reis just got to), caused constant havoc in the Revolution's box, and nearly led to several strikes by teammates.
A solid defensive effort, a few moments aside -- and all of those seemingly involving Brazilian center back Leonardo -- that limited the Revs to one shot on goal and left goalkeeper Josh Saunders without a whole lot to do.
“It's difficult to play beautiful football in that kind of weather … but I think we deserved to win the game,” Beckham said. “I thought we created chances, and I think one of the goals [that were called back] should have definitely counted, the one that Reis dropped. But it happens.”
COSTLY MISTAKES: The Galaxy wasn't good enough in front of the net -- Chad Barrett and Mike Magee need to produce more than they have in the first two games -- and dodged a few bullets, with the Revs twice hitting the goal frame.
“I think we probably lacked a little bit in our final pass, final touch, final shot,” Landon Donovan said, “and if we were a little better, then I think we would have won the game.”
The result was decided on two miscues, the first by the Galaxy defense on a corner kick just 2 minutes, 32 seconds in, the second by referee Hilario Grajeda in the 16th minute.
Shalrie Joseph gave New England the early lead, nodding home a cross from Marko Perovic after Chris Birchall headed Perovic's corner kick back out to the right flank. Leonardo took the brunt of the blame, losing Joseph in front of the net, but there were problems at every stage of the play.
“We did a poor job. Very poor job,” Arena said. “The ball came back to Perovic -- I don't think we got after him to put him under any kind of pressure -- [and he] placed the ball back in, and we should have been pushing out of the goal, and we didn't do the job.”
Said Saunders: “We got out a little bit late, clearing the line, that allowed them to just come in on top of us. … It's always difficult when you're pushing your line out and they you've got to track back. Obviously, you'd like to have someone on [Joseph], but sometimes things break down.”
The lead up to the corner kick wasn't good, either. Leonardo turned the ball over, and Zack Schilawski trudged past Birchall, Juninho and A.J. DeLaGarza before his shot inside the box was deflected wide of the post.
And Leonardo also gave the ball away, then failed to deal with the ensuing pass, when Joseph hit the right post in the 65th minute, the Revs' best second-half chance.
POOR CALL: The other error belonged to Grajeda, who called Magee for a foul after minimal contact with Reis before the goalkeeper, from Mission Viejo and UCLA, dropped a Beckham cross and Juninho knocked the loose ball into the net.
“You can't reward the goalkeeper for dropping the ball,” Arena said. “I don't understand that one at all.”
Said Donovan: “That one that Reis dropped, that's not a foul. I don't think anybody in here could claim that's a foul, including Reis, and when you see his reaction” -- obvious disappointment when the ball hits the net, never signaling that he thought he was fouled -- “it's pretty obvious.”
Better conditions would have helped L.A., especially in the second half, but Donovan called playing in the rain and wind “fun” and Beckham said he enjoyed it, too. To a point.
“To have heavy rain for a whole game like that, I definitely haven't had that for awhile,” he said. “But I miss it. It's nice to see it. Just not for the whole game.”