Beckham, Donovan come through when LA need them most
CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy were being widely outplayed by the Chicago Fire in the first half on Saturday night, and it seemed entirely possible their unbeaten streak would come to an end on their own turf.
But the second half was a different story, as LA's two biggest stars — Landon Donovan and David Beckham — both scored to deliver an eventual 2-1 victory and extend the Galaxy's undefeated run to 12 games.
"We need the leadership from Landon and David to be successful," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the win.
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Beckham delivered the set-piece service for the opening goal, a header by Donovan in the 58th minute, and scored the winner directly from a corner kick in the 65th, just three minutes after Chicago found an equalizer throught Cristian Nazarit.
The star midfielder went the distance in the match, which was somewhat surprising as he had been sidelined for much of his team's recent games with severe back spasms. After the match, Beckham's torso was heavily taped and iced to try to lessen the swelling from his exertion.
"He's really determined," said Arena. "He's a tough athlete. There was a point at about 65 minutes that I thought we might have to take him out, because he looked fatigued, but he hung in there. He really wanted to play. He was a tremendous presence tonight."
Much of the buzz after the match centered on Beckham's remarkable match-winner. According to the Englishman, it wasn't the first time he'd scored like that — but it had been a long time.
"When I was on loan at Preston [North End], I scored on a corner," Beckham explained after the match, recalling his loan stint at the then fourth-division English club 16 years ago. On Saturday night, he saw an opportunity to take advantage again.
"I saw the goalkeeper cheating forward and I saw a little bit of a gap," he explained, "and I knew if I put it in a good area, it might hit in off somebody or it was going to go straight in."
The Galaxy have been a team featuring unexpected heroics of late, from field player Mike Magee playing in goal at San Jose and perserving a shutout, to third-string goalkeeper Brian Perk saving a penalty on Monday against Seattle.
Yet when the team's top players are the heroes, LA usually produce a win. The last match featuring goals by both Donovan and Beckham came in May, and that also produced a victory.
"That's what guys like that are around for," said defender Gregg Berhalter. "It's great that they're able to contribute in that way. Just the effort that David gave and him playing through pain, and wanting the ball all the time was great for us, and it really boosted our team."
The LA Galaxy take on star-studded Real Madrid, including former FIFA World Player of the Year winners Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo and five members of Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup winning squad on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. at the LA Coliseum. Tickets are still available for this match, as low as $40! Visit www.lagalaxy.com/worldfootballchallenge for tickets and gameday information.