Los Angeles Soccer: Brian Carroll
The Galaxy will want to show their home supporters they've put last week's disaster at Real Salt Lake behind them, and David Beckham believes they will when they take on surprise Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia on Saturday night at Home Depot Center.
L.A. (1-1-1) is coming off a 4-1 defeat at RSL that could have, and probably should have, been far worse. L.A. was down, 2-0, by the 10th minute, had surrendered a third before halftime and never provided any real competition for their Western Conference rival. Beckham called it “humiliating” and “kind of embarrassing.”
“It was a bad game for us,” he said. “I don't think there's an huge separation between our two teams. Obviously, Salt Lake, they're a very good soccer team. They play the ball around well, they work well together, they've got that unity. And we've got all those attributes, but on the day we just didn't perform.
“We turned up and it was a little bit windy, little bit cold, and we wasn't ready to just go at it. That's one of the things we can't have happen. If you're not ready for a fight, not ready to play, you're going to get walked over. And we did. Simple as that.”
The Galaxy hopes to be closer to full strength against the Union. Landon Donovan is back from U.S. national team duty, and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and center back Omar Gonzalez have been participating more fully in training and might be considered for starting roles.
More important for the Galaxy is to start the game with better concentration. They gave up a goal to New England just 2 minutes, 32 seconds into their home opener, a 1-1 draw; RSL needed only 1:15 to score.
“Obviously, the players are well aware in the last two games, obviously, that we can't concede early and we have to be smart at the beginning of games, and it wasn't accomplished,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “But it will get accomplished this week. I'm pretty sure of that.”
A look at Saturday's postseason action:IN BRIEF: The reigning champs are dead, and it's an all-Western final four. … FC Dallas scored an early goal and held off 2009 MLS Cup champ Real Salt Lake's late onslaught for a 1-1 draw, enough to send the Hoops into the Western Conference final -- against the Galaxy or Seattle -- with a 3-2 aggegate triumph. … Colorado knocked off the East's No. 2 side, rallying to force overtime, then winning on penalty kicks in Columbus, and will be home against Western rival San Jose in the, yes, Eastern Conference final.
BEST PLAYER: Before his bizarre knee injury, Kevin Hartman (Palos Verdes/Peninsula HS and UCLA) was getting his share of MLS MVP talk. He reminded us why with a masterful performance in the nets for FC Dallas, making two game-saving stops and parrying balls from danger throughout the second half to make Dax McCarty's 17th-minute goal (from a great Brek Shea chest pass) stand up for the Hoops.
BEST GOAL: Robbie Rogers (Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS) finished beautifully in the 70th minute to give Columbus a 2-0 lead (and 2-1 edge on aggregate), running onto Emmanuel Ekpo's ball into space, positioning himself between the ball and Rapids defender Anthony Wallace, taking it into the box and left-footing past Matt Pickens. Bigger, and just as good, was Conor Casey's emblematic one-touch finish in the box from Omar Cummings' cross in the 84th to even aggregate at 2-2.
BIGGEST STOP: Take your pick from Hartman's collection. We'll go with two, both on Fabian Espindola, both foot saves as he dove one way and Espindola shot the other way. The second, a stoppage-time stop after Espindola redirected Andy Williams' blast from outside the box, ended RSL's comeback hopes.
FROM THE SPOT: It was going to take a miss rather than a save to decide the Columbus-Colorado shootout. All five Rapids shooters were on target, four of them with hard-hit, well-placed shots -- Macoumba Kandji's poor attempt should have been stopped by Andy Gruenebaum, who fumbled the ball off the post and in -- and Columbus made its first four just as impressively while Pickens looked well out of sorts. Brian Carroll, shooting fifth for the Crew, skied his well over the crossbar, igniting Colorado's celebration.
WORTH NOTING: Hartman, not fully fit following six weeks' absence after Thierry Henry's ill-advised goal celebration left the former Galaxy keeper with a sprained right medial collaterial ligament, did not take his own goal kicks. … Previous MLS Cup appearances for the five remaining clubs: Galaxy 6 (1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2009, with triumphs in 2002 and 2005), San Jose 2 (2001 and 2003, both triumphs, both with the team that moved to Houston after the 2005 season), Colorado 1 (1997, lost to D.C. United), FC Dallas and Seattle 0. ... Real Salt Lake's home MLS unbeaten streak, dating to May 2009, remains intact.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We said before the game we are not so sure that many people care about us, but we care about each other. We definitely fight for each other. At this point, we have come together and there is real cohesion.” -- Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz.
at Columbus, Ohio
Columbus 2 (Gaven 22, Rogers 70), Colorado 1 (Casey 84)
(aggregate 2-2; Colorado wins on penalties, 5-4)
Penalties: Colo -- Casey G, Kandji G, Larentowicz G, Lopez G, Smith G; Clb -- Schelotto G, Garey G, Gaven G, Brunner G, Carroll H
at Sandy Utah
Real Salt Lake 1 (Findley 80), FC Dallas 1 (McCarty 17)
(FC Dallas wins on aggregate, 3-2)
SUNDAY'S SECOND LEG
L.A. Galaxy vs. Seattle at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes. First leg: Galaxy, 1-0
West: Galaxy/Seattle vs. FC Dallas, date, time and site TBA, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
East: San Jose at Colorado, Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes