For about 40 slightly surreal minutes on Thursday night, the L.A. Galaxy’s MLS Cup quest appeared to be sputtering.
The New York Red Bulls scored a 4th-minute goal that tied the two-game quarterfinal series, 1-1, on aggregate.
L.A. captain Landon Donovan was invisible, and David Beckham was given smelling salts on the sideline following a 33rd-minute collision. Meanwhile, Thierry Henry was pulling the strings for the revitalized Red Bulls with big-game aplomb.
But Beckham, Donovan and Co. are just too good, and too committed to winning cheap jerseys from china that long sought title on home soil, to go down this early. Midfield utility man Mike Magee headed home a Beckham corner in the 42nd and Donovan converted a penalty kick in the 75th to give L.A. a 2-1 victory on the night and a 3-1 win in the series.
The top-seeded Galaxy (21-5-10) will host No. 3 Real Salt Lake (16-12-
in Sunday night’s Western Conference final with a spot in the Nov. 20 MLS Cup decider, to be played at the Galaxy’s Home Depot Center, on the line.
Setting the example
The will to win exhibited by Donovan and Beckham was something to behold. Donovan, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a quadriceps strain, once again lacked anything resembling rhythm and sharpness. He had missed a wide-open chance in L.A.’s 1-0 first leg victory at New York and appeared to miss the entire first half on Thursday. His only notable moment before halftime was a collision with N.Y. goalkeeper Frank Rost that resulted in a yellow card.
Early in the second half, Donovan badly missed on an easy pass to Beckham that woul cheap nhl jerseysd have resulted in an open look at goal. It was as if he was wearing someone else’s cleats.
But he found a way. In the 54th, the Red Bulls appeared on the verge of tying the series as Henry found Dane Richards on a break down the left. Donovan, from well inside the New York half, took off. He raced the length of the field and reached Richards’ cross just inches before it found forward Luke Rodgers.
Following the first game of the series, Magee told Sporting News that it was that sort of selfless effort from the likes of Donovan that inspired the rest of the team.
“It’s contagious,” Magee said. “When you see a guy like that working miami heat jerseys both sides of the ball and not caring whether he scores or gets an assist, you’ve got to put in that much more effort.”
Donovan then engineered the counterattack that led to the second goal, finding Beckham on the edge of the N.Y. penalty area after a run through the middle.
Beckham’s initial shot was blocked by Roy Miller, and the Englishman put his back to the defender to settle the ball. But Miller inexplicably kicked Beckham in the back, and Donovan coolly deposited the PK for his first goal since Sept. 9.
Beckham had appeared wobbly and uneasy following his first-half knock, nfl jerseys cheap but was all over the field in the second stanza and controlled the middle with authority in the absence of suspended partner Juninho.
As their stars go, so go the Galaxy, and even when things aren’t going well, elite players find a way to make an impact.
Magee’s rising star
It’s been quite a year for the 27-year-old attacking midfielder, forward and very occasional goalkeeper who was dealt to L.A. by the Red Bulls before the 2009 season in exchange for a second-round draft pick, which isn’t much. Magee became a cult hero in June when he was forced to kegogo play goalie following an injury to the Galaxy’s starter and a red card to the backup. Magee shut out the San Jose Earthquakes and was named the league’s Player of the Week.
Magee scored four of his five regular season goals following that game in San Jose, and tallied the only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win in New York. On Thursday, he beat his mark to Beckham’s corner and headed the ball over Frank Rost to give L.A. the lead.
“He is intelligent, technically good and just has a real good feel for the game. He is a real good player,” L.A. coach Bruce Arena said following the first leg. “He has matured as a person—physically and tactically with the game, he has been able to accept a variety of roles.”
This is Luke Rodgers
The war of words that climaxed with the ridiculous postgame melee on Sunday that resulted in red cards to Juninho and Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Márquez began in early May, when Rodgers called Donovan a variety of names following their teams’ 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center.
“He talks too much,” the Englishman said of Donovan, among other things. “I just like to get on with the game. It is just a bit annoying. It is like having two referees on the pitch. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Donovan responded with a Tweet: “I’m confused. Who is Luke Rodgers?”
On Sunday, after Donovan said that he had never played against a “cheaper” team, Rodgers fired back again.
“In my eyes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. A lot of their players were doing the same thing,” Rodgers said.
On Thursday, Rodgers ensured that every Galaxy player and fan knew full well who he was. His fourth-minute goal was brilliant and followed a lovely through ball from Henry.
Rodgers beat L.A.’s Omar Gonzalez cleanly to the inside and finished below charging goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Moments later, Rodgers scythed down Beckham, got in a shoving match and was shown a yellow card. Just a few minutes later, Rodgers fired the ball into the stands and nearly decapitated a woman standing on the sideline. He was lucky not to be ejected in the 36th after a rash tackle on Gonzalez.
In the 57th, Rodgers nearly pulled the Red Bulls (11-10-16) level, but hit the side netting after beating Gonzalez to another ball.
On a team that often seemed to lack fire and commitment, Rodgers was an effective and memorable sparkplug. He had nine goals and three assists in the regular season and proved to be quite the talisman—the Red Bulls' 1-0 win over Seattle in their season opener was the team’s only victory all year without Rodgers in the lineup.
He’s certainly made a name for himself now.
Red Bulls' future
Rodgers puts his money where his mouth is. But Márquez clearly doesn’t. The veteran who criticized his teammates for not playing at his “level,” really was hardly missed on Thursday, as the Red Bulls were far more dangerous with Henry tracking back into midfield and Dax McCarty playing in the middle.
Earlier Thursday, MLS announced that Márquez would be suspended for two extra games for throwing the ball at Donovan on Sunday, for assaulting L.A.’s Adam Cristman in the ensuing fracas and then for pretending to be struck in the face by Juninho, who was standing several feet away. Had the Red Bulls advanced, he would have missed the MLS Cup final.
Márquez makes $4.6 million and is on the Red Bulls' books for two more years. Somehow, the club is going to have to find a way to get rid of its Mexican malcontent and move forward with players who have some composure and commitment.http://90s2infinity.forumotion.com/t158-galaxy-fights-through-to-knock-off-red-bulls
As the Galaxy showed on Saturday, big names mean nothing unless they have the will to work.