Sunday, March 27, 2011
GALAXY: RSL toys with overmatched L.A.
By Scott French
The Galaxy was fortunate to concede only four goals in Saturday night's showdown with Real Salt Lake.
RSL (2-0-0) was ahead after 75 seconds, had a second before 10 minutes were gone and got a brilliant third before halftime en route to a 4-1 triumph.
Javier Morales scored twice -- a 10th-minute penalty kick and a bullet to the upper-right corner in the 41st -- and Brazilian youngster Paulo Jr. had a 68th-minute tally to make it 4-0.
Juan Pablo Angel scored his first goal for the Galaxy (1-1-1) in the 79th minute, a poacher's strike after David Beckham's heady free kick skipped past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
A quick look at the Galaxy's loss:
BEST PLAYER: Morales, Paulo Jr. and Fabian Espindola took turns torturing the Galaxy defense. Morales was extraordinary at finding teammates, and there's also that great goal. Paulo Jr. and Espindola owned the Galaxy's backliners, penetrating nearly at will on passing sequences often reaching double digits.
But everybody in red deserves credit: RSL looked like Spain does against, well, everybody. It possessed almost continuously, weaving intricate passing patterns in and around the Galaxy players, who spend much of the game chasing the ball, usually without success.
At one point, late in the first half, RSL connected 25 successive passes. The ball was then cleared by the Galaxy, and RSL started anew, this time for 15 straight passes.
BEST GOAL: Morales' second, of course. The one where he caught L.A.'s defense sleeping on a throw-in, sprinted along the top of the box to track Chris Wingert's toss and hit the upper-right corner. Spectacular.
But, for argument's sake, let's look at RSL's other three:
1. A turnover deep in L.A. territory, Morales sent Paulo Jr. through on the left channel, his ball across the goalmouth got past Espindola to Andy Williams, who tucked the ball inside the left post.
2. Morales' penalty kick followed a superb sequence, with Robbie Russell beating Michael Stephens and Todd Dunivant with a pass to Morales, who dodged Leonardo's attempted tackle, cut inside and chipped over A.J. DeLaGarza and Sean Franklin onto Paulo Jr.'s path -- best pass of the night. As goalkeeper Josh Saunders raced off his line to intercede, Paulo Jr. nodded the ball into space to the left of the goal. Saunders arrived late, slammed into Paulo Jr., and down he went. Clear PK.
3. Rimando booted the ball from his box into Galaxy territory, toward the left flank, and it skipped between DeLaGarza and Franklin as Espindola ran past. Espindola collected the ball and approached the box from the left, sent a perfectly weighted ball to split Saunders and Leonardo en route to the far post, where Paulo Jr. knocked it home.
All four goals featured major defensive lapses, but the precision with which RSL finished and the artistry of the buildup were phenomenal.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Galaxy, from the first moment, was off its game, often unable to string more than three passes together while incapable of slowing down RSL's surging attack.
Several players struggled mightily: The ball seemed an enemy to Stephens, who stepped in on the left wing for Landon Donovan, who was off helping the U.S. national team in its 1-1 draw with Argentina; Leonardo looked lost at times, especially when Paulo Jr. was bearing down on him; Chad Barrett was virtually invisible up top, not that he had much support.
WORTH NOTING: The Galaxy took twice as long -- 152 seconds -- to give up a goal in their previous game, the 1-1 draw last weekend with New England. … L.A. has won just one of the last 10 meetings with RSL. … RSL is unbeaten in its past 36 home games, all competitions. … A few Galaxy high points: Argentine forward Miguel Lopez, who came on at halftime for Barrett, initially brought the attack needed energy and hit the right post in the 51st minute. Beckham delivered several outstanding balls and hit the left post with a deflected free kick. Chris Birchall gave an honest performance in central midfield.
WHAT WAS SAID: “We know we’re better than that. But we have to prove it on the field. … We put ourselves in a very difficult position right from the beginning.” -- Angel.
“A sheer delight to watch.” -- Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis, on the first half.
NEXT: Saturday vs. early Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (TV: Fox Sports West).
Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell (Tony Beltran, 63), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Andy Williams (Collen Warner, 69), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy; Paulo Jr. (Luis Gil, 77), Fabian Espindola.
Real Salt Lake 4, Galaxy 1
RSL -- Andy Williams (Paulo Jr., Javier Morales) 2
RSL -- Javier Morales pen. 10
RSL -- Javier Morales (Chris Wingert) 41
RSL -- Paulo Jr. (Fabian Espindola) 68
LA -- Juan Pablo Angel (David Beckham) 79
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant; David Beckham (Bryan Jordan, 88), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Paolo Cardozo, 58); Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez, 46). Unused subs: Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Mike Magee, Brian Perk.
Yellow cards: Saunders 9, Beckham 54, Lopez 54, Leonardo 74.
Referee: Jair Marrufo. Att.: 20,507.