There has always been a rivalry between Los Angeles and New York. No matter the medium - hip hop, film, fashion, television - America’s twin capitals of style and influence have engaged in healthy, respectful competition.
The same applies to MLS these days as recent meetings between the LA Galaxy and Red Bull New York have developed into one of the league’s most talked about fixtures in recent years. This relatively newfound status as “must-see TV” can be attributed to a trio of common factors between the two sides: their wealth of marquee players, their location in large, influential markets and - since 2007 - their penchant for putting on a show on the field every time they meet.
It’s the last point that’s worth focusing on, though, as the series has been the backdrop for a handful of standout performances by players on both sides of the ball, including one who has made the move from the Big Apple to Tinseltown.
So as we look ahead to this Saturday’s East Coast-West Coast clash (11 pm ET/8 pm PT; ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com), here’s a look back at three of the best recent individual performances from the series.
Landon Donovan, July 16, 2009
As the world saw during last summer’s World Cup, the Galaxy’s captain does not shy away from the spotlight. But a year before his antics in South Africa brought Donovan global recognition, he took center stage on a beautiful summer evening in front a raucous, robust Giants Stadium crowd.
With the Galaxy up 1-0 after a goal by Alecko Eskandarian, Donovan hustled to recover a David Beckham corner kick that bounced out of the 18-yard box and struck an arching ball into the net from 25 yards out to make the game 2-0. He added an assist later in the game on a goal by Eddie Lewis, delivering the type of beautifully placed cross normally associated with his famous English teammate.
LA went on to win 3-1 on the back of Donovan’s dynamic day.
David Beckham, Aug. 18, 2007
The world’s most famous footballer rode into New York on a wave of hype in the summer of 2007. Making his first MLS start in front of 66,000 fans, the English international did what he did best in a match that ignited the current LA-NY rivalry.
Beckham silenced the famously gruff New York audience by delivering a one-two punch of his trademark set-pieces, dropping two onto the head of Carlos Pavón in the sixth and eighth minutes to put the Galaxy up 2-1 in a wild start to the game.
And he wasn’t done. Beckham delivered a corner kick in the 82nd minute that was slammed home by Kyle Veris for LA’s fourth and final goal of the evening.
Juan Pablo Angel, Aug. 18, 2007
Beckham wasn’t the only player to bring his A-game on that epic August afternoon. Juan Pablo Ángel, now Beckham’s Galaxy teammate, opened and closed the scoring in a game that featured nine goals between the two sides.
Ángel’s first of the day came from a bit of set-piece savvy that even Beckham had to admire. Standing over the ball just outside the LA 18-yard box, the Columbian sent the ball skipping beneath the airborne Galaxy wall and caught 'keeper Joe Cannon off guard to put New York up 1-0 in the fourth minute.
But it was his final goal - the game-winner - that brought the house down. With less than four minutes remaining until stoppage time, New York legend Clint Mathis rifled a left-footed shot that Cannon could only parry to the side. A streaking Ángel latched onto the rebound and, at an almost perpendicular angle to the goalmouth, he somehow placed a shot on target with enough force that it bounced off of Cannon’s chest and into the net.
The match finished 5-4 to New York, and to this day has a hallowed place among fans of both clubs.