Like us to subscribe
The Los Angeles Galaxy have advanced to the Western Conference Finals after a 2-1 home win over the New York Red Bulls, adding to the 1-0 victory the achieved in New York last weekend. For a little while, it didn't seem as though things would be as straightforward as they ended up turning out - within four minutes of the match kicking off at the Home Depot Center Luke Rodgers had put the visitors ahead after being fed expertly by Thierry Henry and then firing first-time past Josh Saunders.
That goal shook LA's resolve a little and the Red Bulls were rampant in the early going. It looked for all the world like the visitors were on course for a crushing and completely unexpected victory, with the Galaxy completely unable to retain possession. But then Teemu Tainio went off with a hamstring problem and everything started to fall apart for New York.
Robbie Keane had about five hundred good chances to score before his teammates got bored and did the job for him, Mike Magee losing Dane Richards on a corner and nodding David Beckham's delivery straight over Frank Rost to make it 1-1 on the evening and 2-1 on aggregate, and from then on things mostly went the Galaxy's way. The best chance New York had of tying things up again came when the excellent Dax McCarty played Rodgers clean through on goal, but the English striker could only find the side netting when it seemed easier to score.
Only a few minutes had passed after that wasted chance before Beckham won a penalty following a really silly foul by Roy Miller, and the otherwise unimpressive Landon Donovan stepped up to convert. Following that rather pointless spot kick, the Red Bulls needed two goals to advance. They would end up getting, none, and the Galaxy advance to face Real Salt Lake on Sunday.
Well that's probably that, then. David Beckham should have a penalty when Roy Miller blocks his shot with his arm at the edge of the box, but Hilario Grajeda either doesn't see it or doesn't care, because he waves play on. Beckham retrieves the ball, and Miller immediately fouls him. I'd say it was a moment of idiocy, but since I don't know Miller I can't attest that he's any brighter in other moments - but that was pretty stupid regardless. It's a stonewall spot kick, and
Grajeda has no choice but to award it.
Landon Donovan steps up to take it, and does what could well be his first positive action of the match, sending Frank Rost the wrong way to give the Galaxy a 2-1 lead on the night and 3-1 on aggregate. That should probably wrap things up, and Bruce Arena obviously thinks so, withdrawing David Beckham for whatever a Mike Stephens is. Alright then.
That's not going to convince anyone of Juan Agudelo's worth. The New York Red Bulls overload the LA Galaxy's right flank with the combination of the young substitute and old hand Joel Lindpere isolated against Sean Franklin. Agudelo has the beating of Franklin and can easily slip a past in behind the line for his Estonian teammate to run onto, but instead taps the ball against Franklin's foot and the hosts can escape.
If the Red Bulls go down here, they probably only have themselves to blame - they should be doing far better with their chances (and should have in New York too). You get the feeling that it wouldn't be beyond them to score though, and if Josh Saunders keeps playing like that it wouldn't be a surprise at all, the goalkeeper coming out to catch a long ball, realises that he's out of the box, and goes tumbling with Thierry Henry in close attendance. Fortunately, Omar Gonzalez is around to clear up the mess - and there's better news to come, if you're a Galaxy fan...
So. Your team needs a goal, and you have promising striker prospect Juan Agudelo sitting on the bench waiting for his chance. Both of your strikers are on bookings. What do you do?
The answer, probably, is to take off a midfielder and go for broke, hoping that nobody gets sent off. However, you probably shouldn't take off your best player on the night, which is what Hans Backe just did, withdrawing Dax McCarty to introduce the teenager. We'll just have to wait and see if it works, but I'm skeptical for now.
Anyway, New York are on the attack against the Los Angeles Galaxy, but they're not pressing in the way you'd expect a team with about 25 minutes of season left to play unless they score. Their latest move ends when Jan Gunnar Solli looks up, sees Thierry Henry in space, and shoots wide from 35 yards. No, I don't know either. Still 1-1 here.
Woof, that's some pretty woeful play from both teams. Luke Rodgers is put clean through on goal thanks to a luscious long pass by Dax McCarty and some hilariously poor defending from Omar Gonzalez and AJ DeLaGarza*. Anyway, Rodgers is running through the middle and looks certain to draw the New York Red Bulls level - he's already beaten Josh Saunders once, remember - but can only thump a left-footed shot into the side netting. He had to score there. Well, I guess he didn't have to. But it sure would have helped.
*AJ stands for 'Adolph Joseph', according to Soccernet, which kind of explains why he goes by his initials.
Thierry Henry's just managed to pick up a booking after retaliating after he lost possession, kicking in the ankle in a rather pointless display of frustration. That yellow card means that the former Arsenal star will miss the Red Bulls' next game, should they advance to the West Conference Finals. Of course, to advance, they need at least one more goal here...
Can someone explain to me why Dax McCarty doesn't start regularly for the New York Red Bulls? He's probably been the visitors' most effective midfielder, and considering how well Joel Lindpere's playing that's a pretty huge compliment. Anyway, he robs Landon Donovan in the centre of the pitch and launches a Red Bulls attack which ends up thwarted by a misplaced eye of the needle (nose of the needle?) pass from Thierry Henry.
So the LA Galaxy can reply, and after a corner following a deflected Donovan shot there's a bit of pinball going on in Frank Rost's box, although the defence can scramble clear. Just. Then, after a David Beckham free kick is punched away, the visitors can break - Henry releases Dane Richards and his cross to Luke Rodgers at the far post is just about diverted behind my Omar Gonzalez. End to end stuff, this, and it's still 1-1 at the Home Depot Center. If it stays like this, the Galaxy will advance to the Western Conference Final.
We're off again in the second half at the Home Depot Center, where the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls are locked in a 1-1 tie that will see the hosts advance on aggregate should said scoreline hold. New York start out on the attack with Joel Lindpere winning a corner on the left - the same corner David Beckham recorded his assist from in the first half, actually. His delivery isn't nearly as successful, but the visitors retain possession.
They lose it again twenty seconds later, but at least it ends with a shot on goal, with Luke Rodgers finding himself at the end of a neat long pass by Dax McCarty but only able to send a looping header for Josh Saunders to claim. The hosts mount their first foray forward of the half shortly thereafter, but Landon Donovan shows some solidarity with teammate Robbie Keane by making a complete mess of it. Sloppy.
Finally, an LA Galaxy chance that doesn't fall to Robbie Keane - and it leads to a goal. The ball is whipped in from the right and Jan Gunnar Solli has to head behind for a corner, which David Beckham, apparently ok after his back problem, takes. The ball lands perfectly on Mike Magee's head and is sent whizzing past Frank Rost and into the back of the net for the equaliser.
The goal means that LA Galaxy are now 2-1 up on aggregate, so they're in pretty good shape again, especially considering that the New York Red Bulls haven't really done much since Teemu Tainio came off the pitch. We're coming up to the end of the first half, which means LA only have 45 minutes left to navigate, and they're once more in command of the tie.
They could go up further a few minutes later when the ball falls to white shirt in shooting position. But Keane's the one who takes, so it goes wide. Oh, and Landon Donovan's been booked for being an obnoxious little elf. Surprise! Anyway, 1-1 at the Home Depot Center.
Just so everyone's clear, the reason LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane no longer plays in Europe is because he's inexplicably, hilariously bad and has been for some time. I don't think anyone can quite figure out why, but it is what it is. Perhaps a curse of some sort?
If Keane has indeed been hexed, the effects just showed up here at the Home Depot Center - midfielder Craig Birchall took aim at the New York Red Bulls goal and let fly with a decent enough short from 30 yards which catches Frank Rost out a little bit - instead of grabbing it cleanly he spills his shot and the ball falls to Keane from four yards. He shoots to the prone Rost's right... and Rost saves. Somehow. Huh.
And then a few minutes later Keane does it again, finding himself with the ball twelve yards out and then being tackled by Tim Ream before he can shoot. Oooh, hang on a second... Los Angeles have just scored!
David Beckham appears to have picked up a slight back problem after Dane Richards hit him with a sneaky little elbow as the two contested a header. The former England captain has gone down on the pitch after an initial complaint and then a long spell of either fixing his hair of holding his head in pain. Considering it's Beckham, I'm going to have to assume it's the former.
Anyway, he's off the pitch for now being poked, prodded and rubbed by the LA Galaxy medical staff, and it looks as though he's going to try to keep going. The match restarts with Beckham back on the pitch, and Richards welcomes him with a crunching tackle. Nice.
That pause looks like it's settled the New York Red Bulls down a little bit, and Joel Lindpere cuts open their defence and is fouled twenty yards out, which is totally ignored. Reprisals are issued by Luke Rodgers, who sprints about thirty yards to foul Mike Magee for no reason and giving Hilario Grajeda another opportunity to send him off. Does he? Of course not, although he should have. Instead, Rodgers gets the finger waggle of doom. Weighty punishment.
Still New York 1-0 LA Galaxy. If you were wondering.
LA Galaxy forward Chad Barrett tries to make up for his error in impeding Robbie Keane as his striker was lining up to shoot on Frank Rost's goal by winning a 50-50 ball about ten yards from the New York Red Bulls penalty box, allowing the host to start a three on one break. Considering that one is Team Ream, it would take something of a miracle to stop the Galaxy regaining their lead there, and that miracle came through a catastrophic failure of Keane's brain - with two passing options he decided to walk the ball straight into Ream's foot and New York can clear.
Harkes watch: "That's what makes the game beautiful. Anything can happen!" I hope so, John. I hope so.
New York's next attack of note comes from a clever pair of flicks from Thierry Henry and Dax McCarty, which would unleash Luke Rodgers once more if not for the little striker being just as confused as the defence, leaving him running in zig-zags as Omar Gonzalez rather unconvincingly mops up. I think that that's the first time they've put the ball into the attacking third since the Teemu Tainio substitution.
Interesting. The New York Red Bulls, who've started brilliantly, have been forced into an early substitution with Teemu Tainio, who sounds like he should be playing for the New York Rangers forced off the pitch with hamstring tightness. Stephane Auvray is the replacement, and suddenly they're no longer bossing play in the centre.
The LA Galaxy reply with a series of chances - Mike Magee is screaming for the ball on Frank Rost's right-hand post twice but can't do much when delivery arrives, while Robbie Keane thunked a shot off the post a few minutes later after a deft bit of control when teammate Chad Barrett bizarrely attempted to tackle him (that's not a good idea, Chad!) as he bore down on Rost's goal.
John Harkes watch: 'I think the momentum's might be shifting a little bit here'. New York have touched the ball four times in the past four minutes. Harkes knows which way that wind is blowing for sure.
Have the LA Galaxy learned from conceding their goal that they shouldn't be allowing Thierry Henry to be dropping into the hole between their midfield and the defence? Have they my bottom - Henry's at it again and nearly manages to work some space to break through on the left only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle. New York Red Bulls have a series of corners which is eventually ended by a long clearance and the pressure is off for all of thirty seconds, upon which the visitors recover the ball and once again go on the attack.
Why are New York looking so good? Well, it's all about the midfield
battle rout. The Galaxy are doing nothing in the centre, and their guests are absolutely blowing them up whenever they have the ball - I'm reasonably sure that all four of the Red Bulls' midfielders have made a successful tackle already today. So far this has been pretty embarrassing for the hosts. But they have most of the match to recover, and the tie is still level on aggregate. They'll probably be fine, right?
Well that was quick. The New York Red Bulls have drawn level on aggregate within five minutes of kickoff in Los Angeles, tearing up that lovely script we had written where the Western Conference champions walked all over their barely-qualified-for-the-playoffs visitors. And, of course, it was Luke Rodgers who got the Red Bulls on the board, running onto a wonderful pass by illustrious colleague Thierry Henry to slide a right-footed shot past Josh Saunders from about 15 yards.
If you're wondering why the normally airtight LA Galaxy defence allowed the Red Bulls to simply stroll through and score, the answer probably lies in the absence of Juninho, who is suspended for being hit by Rafael Marquez. I don't get that one either. Anyway, this is a feisty affair and naturally Rodgers gets himself booked after a little contretemps following his goal. A couple of minutes later and the Birmingham-born striker takes offence so some young lady wearing glasses on the sidelines, blasting the ball just past her head (and we're talking centimetres here) from about five yards. That could easily be a second booking for unsportsmanlike conduct, but no way is referee Hilario Grajeda sending anyone off this early.
Anyway, the LA Galaxy try to respond via a David Beckham drive, but it fizzes over the crossbar. Fortunate for New York it did, too - Frank Rost did not look at all comfortable on that one. 1-0 New York at the Home Depot Center.
We're underway in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal, which for some reason features the Eastern conference's New York Red Bulls against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The latter hold a 1-0 aggregate lead, earned in New York, so it'll be a bit of a shock if the Supporters' Shield winners don't manage to advance tonight.
John Harkes tells that the Galaxy "can't play as though they're holding a 1-0 lead" which presumably doesn't mean they should press forward for a goal and get hit on the counterattack, although nobody can really tell with him. Anyway, the Galaxy should play like they're holding a 1-0 lead - hold the ball, probe, try to score but make sure they don't get exposed in the process. Simple, right?
The hosts earn a corner in the first minute. David Beckham swings it in, nothing happens. In the meantime I'm pretty sure Harkes has thrown more words into the microphone then I'll write all match. No, I don't like John Harkes. Fortunately, you don't either... erm, hang on.
The Los Angeles Galaxy will have their full complement of Designated Players as they face the New York Red Bulls in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal holding a 1-0 lead. David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are all starting. Chris Birchall was given the start for Juninho, who is sitting out with a red-card suspension.
The Red Bulls will be without one of their three DPs, as Rafael Marquez is serving the first of a three-game suspension, stemming from the same incident that put Juninho out. In Marquez's place, Dax McCarty was given the start alongside Teemu Tainio in the central midfield.
Galaxy starters: Saunders; Franklin, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Dunivant; Beckham, Birchall, Donovan, Magee; Barrett, Keane. Bench: Donovan Ricketts, Frankie Hejduk, Dasan Robinson, Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski, Paolo Cardozo and Adam Cristman.
Red Bulls starters: Rost, Solli, Keel, Ream, Miller, Richards, Tainio, McCarty, Lindpere, Rodgers, Henry. Bench: Coundoul, Kassel, Mendes, Ballouchy, Auvray, Agudelo.
Red Bulls midfielder would have to miss the rest of the MLS Cup playoffs if his team advances past Thursday's game.
Rafa Marquez is suspended, but the bad blood between the Red Bulls and Galaxy is still there as the two teams head to the second leg of their conference semifinal tilt
We'll email you a reset link.
If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
Choose an available username to complete sign up.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.