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Sunday, July 24, 2011
GALAXY: Mostly positives vs. Man City

By Scott French

Galaxy/Man City
Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli shoots a penalty kick against Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunder.

CARSON -- Officially, Manchester City won Saturday afternoon's friendly against the Galaxy, prevailing on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw. But it felt like a victory for L.A., who were the better side in the second half, rallied on a superb Mike Magee goal and accomplished most of what it set out to do.


“I think I saw a little bit more today than I saw in [last week's friendly against Real] Madrid,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after his team shook off a poor first half to create more than enough chances to beat the English Premier League powerhouse in the World Football Challenge clash at Home Depot Center.

“I think we're gonna have to be playing three† games a week for an extended period of time” -- actually, it's twice a week, once CONCACAF Champions League play begins -- “and we need to go deep into our roster. Today were some indications that there are some players we can use, which is a positive.”

The best such impression was made by rookie midfielder Dan Keat, from New Zealand by way of Dartmouth College, who was slowed by injury early this season but looks like he's ready to contribute now.

Keat played two superb long balls to Chris Birchall, the first one leading to Magee's 53rd-minute goal, the second to a Todd Dunivant chance two minutes later, and and tested City goalkeeper Joe Hart with a blast from Dunivant's rebound. He won balls in midfield and was a solid conduit as the Galaxy took charge over their tiring foe as time wore on.

“I thought Dan Keat played real well,” Arena said twice during his postgame news conference. “I was impressed with his composure, his passing. He had a good look at goal. ... His distribution was good, he got around the ball pretty well, won some tackles. ... That was very encouraging.”

Said Keat: “Today was all about going out there and showing that I can play at that level and giving a good showing of myself,” Keat said. “I think I did that. ... A lot of players stood up and did well. It's good for Bruce to see that everyone performed at that level and showed they can contribute to the second half of the MLS season.”

Winger Hector Jimenez and defender Kyle Davies made their first starts for the first team, and 16-year-old forward Jack McBean and midfielder Dustin McCarty made their initial first-team appearances.

Frankie Hejduk returned to the field following a lengthy ankle injury, playing 30 minutes in the second half -- “Huge for us,” Arena said -- and reserve forward Adam Cristman, midfielder Jovan Kirovski and goalkeeper Brian Perk got ample time. Michael Stephens went the full 90, splitting time in central defense and on the left flank. Omar Gonzalez, wearing a mask to protect his fractured nose, played 45 minutes after missing L.A.'s last two games.
Bryan Jordan, one of L.A.'s most versatile young player, got a look at left back, another new position, “to have a little cover there -- he needed that,” according to Arena.

“We had the opportunity to play 22 players, [some of them] young players who haven't had a whole lot of playing time this year,” Arena said. “I thought that was a real positive.”

Said defender Gregg Berhalter: “We got guys experience at an extremely high level ... and you work on things when the game is more difficult. You work on things like shape, you work on things like counterattacking, and I think overall we did fine.”

MAGEE'S STRIKE: Man City dominated the first half and went ahead on Mario Balotelli's penalty kick in the 20th minute after Jordan fouled Blues right back Micah Richards.

Balotelli didn't last much longer -- City manager Roberto Mancini yanked him after he tried a spin move/backheel shot when 1-on-1 with Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders in the 32nd minute -- and the Blues, despite a huge advantage in first-half possession, found it tough to penetrate L.A.'s backline.

Magee scored eight minutes into the second half, after Birchall, on the right wing, nodded a Keat line drive toward the center, just above Man City's box. Magee volleyed it on the bounce, a dipping shot that cleared Hall and tucked under the crossbar.

Arena called it “a fabulous goal against a fabulous goalkeeper.”

“Right as it was bouncing to my chest, I already knew,” Magee said. “[Birchall] literally headed it perfectly, bounced up to my chest, and I knew I was going to smash it. I was just happy it stayed in the stadium, let alone went in the goal.

“It was one I’ll remember for a long time.”

THE TIEBREAKER: All draws in the WFC are decided on penalties, and this shootout went nine rounds before City prevailed, 7-6. Juninho was the only Galaxy shooter to miss during the first five kicks -- he hit the base of the left post on the third round -- but Perk made a diving save on John Guidetti's would-be winner to force extra kicks and another on Joleon Lescott after McBean was stopped by Hart on L.A.'s sixth shot.

Hart clinched it, firing to the upper-right corner after he saved A.J. DeLaGarza's shot on the ninth round.

“I couldn't wait,” Hart said of his kick. “I tried to take it earlier [in the shootout], but they wouldn't let me.”

WORTH NOTING: Landon Donovan did not play because of a calf injury, and after the game he pulled out of Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United in Harrison, N.J. He said he expects to be ready for next weekend's MLS game at Vancouver. ... Magee left the game after he was hit in the head, but he was fine afterward. ... Best player on the field? Spaniard David Silva, the primary orchestrator of Man City's attack in the first half. Juninho served a similar role for the Galaxy after halftime. ... Mancini said this was “harder than the other two games [his club played on their tour] because the Galaxy is a good team.” ... Angel City Brigade, one of the Galaxy's fan groups, serenaded Man City's fans with “You'll never be United!” chants. Uh, the last thing City supporters want is their team to be in Manchester United, their hated rival. ... A Blues fan's banner, directed at Man United: “Kiss me where the sun don't shine, the past was yours but the future's mine.” ... Brazilian defender/midfielder Paulinho Le Petit, who is with the Galaxy on loan/trial from the second-tier NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers, wasn't able to play because of a visa issue.

Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 1, Manchester City FC (England) 1

(Manchester City wins on penalties, 7-6)
MC -- Mario Balotelli pen. 20
G -- Mike Magee (Chris Birchall) 53

Galaxy: Josh Saunders (Brian Perk, 46); Sean Franklin (Frankie Hejduk, 61), Kyle Davies (Omar Gonzalez, 46), Gregg Berhalter (A.J. DeLaGarza, 46), Bryan Jordan (Todd Dunivant, 46); Hector Jimenez (Chris Birchall , 46), David Beckham (Dan Keat, 46), Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski (Juninho, 46); Adam Cristman (Mike Magee, 46; Justin McCarty, 79), Miguel Lopez (Jack McBean, 66). Unused subs: Kevin Guppy, Ryan Thomas.

Manchester City FC: Joe Hart; Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany (Stefan Savic, 61), Joleon Lescott, GaŽl Clichy (Aleksandar Kolavov, 46); Adam Johnson (John Giudetti, 82), Nigel de Jong, David Silva (Shaun Wright-Phillips, 46), Gareth Barry (Vladimir Weiss, 76); Edin D~eko (Denis Suarez, 88), Mario Balotelli (James Milner, 32). Unused subs: Dedryck Boyata, Erik Johnson, Ryan McGivern, Stuart Taylor, Frederic Veseli.

Yellow card: Savic 67.

Penalties: Galaxy -- Keat G, Birchall G, Juninho left post, Dunivant G, Stephens G, McBean saved, Gonzalez G, McCarty G, DeLaGarza saved; Manchester City -- Milner G, Weiss G, Suarez G, Kolarov G, Guidetti saved, Lescott saved, de Jong G, Wright-Phillips G, Hart G.

Referee: Ricardo Salazar. Att.: 24,897.