Los Angeles Soccer: Desert Diamond Cup
They claimed a different one Saturday night in Tucson, winning the four-team Desert Diamond Cup exhibition event by beating the New England Revolution on penalties.
Brian Perk, playing for the first time this preseason, made two stops in the shootout and Marcelo Sarvas made the decisive kick to give L.A. a 4-2 triumph after 90 scoreless minutes.
Arena used a mixture of first-choice players and reserves, with Best XI left back Todd Dunivant, central midfielders Sarvas and Juninho, and forward Chad Barrett -- making his first start and second appearance since returning from a dislocated foot -- representing experience. New England countered with a starting side that was unable to find the net, just the second shutout the Galaxy has posted in nine preseason matches.
Perk, who missed most of preseason because of an injury suffered while with the U.S. under-23 national team in January, stopped Ryan Guy on New England's first penalty and Benny Feilhaber with the last. Paolo Cardozo, Hector Jimenez and rookie Kenney Walker -- still unsigned -- converted before Sarvas' winner.
The Galaxy end preseason with a 3-5-1 record (2-5-1 against Major League Soccer opposition). They were outscored, 17-16, but seven of their goals came in their opener, a rout of third-tier USL Pro club L.A. Blues. Adam Cristman, who did not play Saturday, led the team with three goals and three assists.
Red cards, seven minutes apart, decided this one, with Beckham's service tearing apart a Real Salt Lake side that was down a man in the 69th, down two in the 76th and didn't surrender a goal until the 80th.
Paolo Cardozo scored on an 80th-minute chip, one of the more embarrassing moments of RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando's career, and Mike Magee exquisitely volleyed home a Beckham delivery six minutes later in a 2-0 triumph in Tucson.
Rookie Kelyn Rowe, from UCLA, scored twice to lift New England past New York, 2-0, in the second game of the doubleheader. Rowe has four goals and four assists in five preseason games. The Galaxy faces New York on Wednesday, and a victory -- and perhaps a draw -- will send them to the tournament final next Saturday.
Beckham came on in the 66th minute, and a Galaxy attack that had sputtered much of the night suddenly found a rhythm, with Beckham's long balls opening space in front of the Utahns' goal.
Beckham's importance to the Galaxy can't be minimized, but RSL isn't the same team with just nine men. Ned Grabavoy, whose pro career started with the Galaxy, was sent off in the 69th minute -- a harsh decision -- after spilling Marcelo Sarvas with a tackle. Yordany Alvarez was gone after his second yellow card in the 76th.
Cardozo struck four minutes later, chipping over a crowded box with a shot that should have been a simple catch for Rimando, a U.S. national-teamer from Montclair (and UCLA). Instead, it slipped through his hands and into the net.
Magee's goal, his second in as many Desert Diamond Cup matches, was of far greater quality.
That was the most noteworthy accomplishment for L.A. in their first game in Tucson, a 3-2 loss to New England in which that big hole at the back was exposed twice -- and mightily so.
The Revolution scored twice in the air in the middle of the Galaxy box, watched the Galaxy rally from deficits both times, then snatched victory when Jeremiah White caught the backline on its back foot with 16 minutes to go.
The Galaxy had some fine moments, most, it seemed, courtesy of Beckham's glorious right foot. His distribution ranged from just off to, more often than not, letter-perfect, and it led to one goal by Edson Buddle -- his first since returning from Germany -- and should have produced another.
Mike Magee also scored for L.A., and Juninho looked right at home after coming on at halftime, his first appearance this preseason.
The primary problem was at the back, where Omar Gonzalez's absence has left the Galaxy without their defensive leader and chief warrior in the air. A.J. DeLaGarza is a fine companion, but he's 5 feet 9 and isn't about to dominate in an aerial game.
The Toffees' captain praised Donovan as his loan spell with the Liverpool club came to an end, telling the team's website that the Galaxy star, in his second loan stint to the club in three years, was a “breath of fresh air.”
“Last time he came here, he lit the place up,” said Neville, a former England national-teamer. “He came back this time a couple of years older and with more expectation on his shoulders. He was really on a hiding to nothing, and I think this time he's performed even better.”
Donovan had six assists in nine matches -- seven games in the English Premier League, two in the F.A. Cup -- was selected the club's Player of the Month for January (just as he was in 2010) and added a dimension to the attack as Everton, struggling before he arrived, knocked off powers Manchester City and Chelsea and advanced to the F.A. Cup quarterfinals.
Donovan, who returned Sunday to Southern California, was forced to miss his final game, Saturday's F.A. Cup fifth-round triumph over Blackpool, because of a bout with flu.
“I know how he felt when he had to miss the game. He was devastated,” Neville said. “It was just nice that he could thank the fans for a tremendous two months. He was a breath of fresh air around the place. He immersed himself in the whole club -- not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. We will miss him.”
The Galaxy's preseason schedule is starting to take shape. The club will wrap preparations at a four-team event in Arizona.
The club on Thursday announced it will join Real Salt Lake, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution for the Feb. 22-March 3 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, which will provide four matches before L.A. departs for its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opener against Toronto FC.
L.A. will face New England on Feb. 22, RSL on Feb. 25 and New York on Feb. 29. Championship and third-place matches will be played March 3. All games will take place at the Kino Sports Complex.
The Galaxy plays at Toronto on March 7, opens the MLS season at Home Depot Center on March 10 -- an opponent has not been announced -- and then is home against Toronto in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on March 14.
Game tickets in Tucson start at $20 and eight-game tournament passes begin at $71. More tournament information is available at FC Tucson's web site.