Saturday, April 9, 2011
GALAXY: 'Robbery' is fair complaint
By Scott French
|Galaxy players argue what they thought was a poor decision to call a late penalty kick by referee Abiodun Okulaja.|
The Galaxy was done quite the injustice Saturday night in Washington, a slender victory in a tense, testy contest with D.C. United wrested away on a 90th-minute penalty kick that never should have been awarded.
Referee Abiodun Okulaja was fooled when Charlie Davies sprawled under the least contact from Omar Gonzalez -- a hand to the hip, nothing more -- and Davis forged a 1-1 draw, netting his Major League Soccer-best fourth goal with a little chip down the middle as L.A. goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts dived to his right.
“Even my 6-year would know not to call that a penalty,” David Beckham said afterward.
It serves as something of consolation to D.C. (1-2-1), which lost two weeks ago in New England after two poor calls went the other way.
Jovan Kirovski, a late substitute for L.A., was red-carded after approaching Okulaja after the final whistle to give him an earful on, we're pretty certain, the game's defining play.
Mike Magee scored the goal for the Galaxy (2-1-2), heading home Beckham's 12th-minute penalty kick, after stepping in for Landon Donovan, who did not travel to Washington because of a bruised knee that the team kept hidden until the lineups were issued 90 minutes before game time.
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: L.A. stood to win because of Ricketts, who made two big second-half saves to keep the Galaxy in command. He came off his line and out of his box to slide away the ball from D.C. forward Josh Wolff, bearing down 1-on-1. Even better was his reaction save seven minutes later on Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius from a Santino Quaranta corner kick.
Ricketts' second successive shutout ended with Davies' penalty kick, and he certainly deserved more.
BEST GOAL: Magee's was well-taken -- and it was the third successive goal L.A. has scored from a Beckham set piece. Magee raced past rookie defender Chris Korb to get to Beckham's corner kick from the left, meeting it above the 6 at the near post, his glancing header sending the ball inside the far post.
Davies' penalty was nice, too -- that little chip to the net's center has become quite popular, hasn't it?
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Just five games in, and Beckham is one yellow card from suspension. He has picked up a league-worst four cautions already, and the one Okulaja assessed in the 41st minute probably should have been red.
Beckham, who had been in several physical confrontations already -- he's got to expect that when stationed in the middle -- swept and scissored down Wolff. Any scissor-tackle, in our eyes, should be an automatic red, and the Screaming Eagles, one of the league's best fan bases, let Okulaja know he was being too kind to the Galaxy superstar.
WORTH NOTING: It was a classic Galaxy game: a gritty encounter that emphasized the 1-on-1 battles, especially in midfield, at the expense of creative, possession soccer. Neither team moved the ball particularly effectively, and both struggled to connect more than a few passes together. It was the kind of game L.A. typically wins, and it should have been rewarded with three points. … Two scary moments: 1) Todd Dunivant on his back, not moving, after colliding full speed with Korb in the 27th minute. He was down at least two minutes, then walked off gingerly and soon returned to action. And, 2), Juninho decked by a Quaranta elbow in the 39th minute. The former Galaxy winger picked up his first yellow; his second, in the 84th, left D.C. with 10 men. … With Chris Birchall serving a red-card suspension, Sean Franklin moved up the flank from his customary right-back slot, with A.J. DeLaGarza, good all night, taking his spot on the backline.
NEXT: L.A. plays Wednesday at Toronto FC, 5 p.m. PDT (TV: only on MLS's Direct Kick package or Match Day Live at the MLS Web site).
RFK Stadium (Washington)
D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Chris Korb (Andy Najar, 72), Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, Marc Burch; Santino Quaranta, Dax McCarthy (Branko Boskovic, 81), Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius; Josh Wolff, Blake Brettschneider (Charlie Davies, 53).
D.C. United 1, Galaxy 1
LA -- Mike Magee (David Beckham) 12
DC -- Charlie Davies pen. 90
Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant; Sean Franklin, David Beckham (Jovan Kirovski, 81), Juninho, Mike Magee; Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett, 90), Miguel Lopez (Paolo Cardozo, 75). Unused subs: Frankie Hejduk, Bryan Jordan, Josh Saunders, Michael Stephens.
Yellow cards: Dunivant 28, Quaranta 40, 84, Beckham 41. Red cards: Quaranta 84, Kirovski 95+.
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja. Att.: 24,998.