David Beckham may not be completely healthy yet, but he sure looked it on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center. The Los Angeles Galaxy had seen their offene sputter recently, not coincidently at the same time that Landon Donovan was off with the U.S. national team and Beckham was dealing with a stress fracture in his spine. On Saturday though, Donovan scored a goal off of a Beckham assits before Beckham scored the game-winner off of a corner kick to push the Galaxy past the Chicago Fire, 2-1.
The first half was ugly at best. Chicago was never able to settle the ball in the midfield and gave the ball away to LA time and time again, but the Galaxy weren't much better. They had the majority of possession, but much of it was useless passing along the back. Any time they tried to go forward they gave the ball away so it was no surprise that the match was scoreless at halftime.
Things changed in the second half as the Galaxy began to show more creativity going forward. Donovan began to get more touches on the ball, although it didn't amount to so much because Juan Pablo Angel turned in another awful match. One thing that the Galaxy did do well was earn fouls and set pieces and that paid off in the 58th minute.
After a foul on the right, Beckham stepped up to play in one of his patented free kicks. He floated over the entire mass of players right in front of goal to Donovan at the back post. Donovan, who was unmarked, rose to meet it and nodded it home easily for the opening tally of the match.
Only four minutes later Chicago equalized. Patrick Nyarko found space on the left and played a pinpoint cross into Cristian Nazarit. The 20-year-old was kept onside by Gregg Berhalter, who was two yards behind the rest of his back line. Berhalter also failed to mark Nazarit, making it easy for Nazarit to head home the cross from just six yards and level the match.
Just like it took Chicago four minutes to respond to LA's goal, it took LA four minutes to respond to Chicago's. Todd Dunivant made a good run to the near post on a Beckham corner kick, blocking the view of Sean Johnson. Beckham's ball was hit hard and was curling hard so when the ball got through Dunivant and through the legs of Johnson, it found the back of the net for an amazing Olimpico goal that proved to be the game-winner.
It's clear that Beckham isn't quite 100% as he returns from his back injury, but it was the first time that he went 90 minutes since injuring himself. His return to health, along with Donovan's return gives the Galaxy a chance to keep their spot atop MLS. They sit on top of MLS with 39 points five points clear of FC Dallas, who have two matches in hand. Chicago has just 18 points, but that has them just five points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.