New year, same old Galaxy. This season, however, that’s a good thing.
Edson Buddle scored early and the defense made it stand as LA beat New England 1-0 at Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Six times last season, the Galaxy won by a 1-0 score, including a July 4 victory over this same New England team here in Southern California.
The Galaxy opened the scoring six minutes into the match. New England’s Joseph Niouky took out Todd Dunivant with a slide tackle a few yards from the left touchline. Landon Donovan took the set piece and placed the ball with precision to the front of the goal. Buddle found space between three defenders and smashed a header into the goal.
For Buddle, the goal may have been a bit of a tension-breaker. The striker scored 15 goals in 2008 but only five a season ago, and with the Galaxy in need of a dependable second scorer this season behind Donovan, Buddle seemed to answer those early questions loud and clear.
New England pieced together a much different lineup than in previous years. Gone are players such as Steve Ralston, Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson, but out injured were Matt Reis, Taylor Twellman and Shalrie Joseph. Revs coach Steve Nicol trotted out three starters who had never played in MLS before: forward Zach Schilawski, midfielder Niouky and defender Seth Sinovic.
Donovan Ricketts wasn’t tested until the 23rd minute, when Pat Phelan took aim from 22 yards. However, Phelan’s shot went straight to the Galaxy ‘keeper and big Jamaican did well to nestle the ball into his arms.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena had to go to his bench midway through the first half. Eddie Lewis, who had been tackled hard by Kevin Alston in the 18th minute, apparently couldn’t recover from the slide tackle and was removed, suffering from a left foot contusion, and replaced by Alex Cazumba. Alston received a yellow card for the challenge.
The Galaxy nearly had several late opportunities to add a second goal but were done in by fine goalkeeping and bad mistakes. Preston Burpo turned away Buddle and Omar Gonzalez in the final 12 minutes with diving saves.
But clearly the Galaxy’s best opportunity was in the 88th minute, when Donovan raced from the center circle to the penalty area unmarked. Instead of trying to beat Burpo, Donovan slipped a ball to Cazumba, but his touch failed him as the ball was out of reach.
CLICK HERE for complete highlights.
LA – Buddle (Donovan) 6
NE – Alston (caution, reckless tackle), 18
NE – Niouky (caution, reckless tackle), 41
LA Galaxy: Ricketts; Franklin, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Magee (Birchall, 67), Kovalenko, Juninho (Stephens, 80), Lewis (Cazumba, 26); Buddle, Donovan.
New England Revolution: Burpo; Alston (Smith, 90), Gibbs, Osei, Sinovic; Nyassi (Boggs, 58), Phelan, Niouky, Tierney; Dube (Mansally, 76), Schilawski.