If the LA Galaxy didn't quite achieve what they wanted in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Colorado, they got what they needed. With a regular season-ending stretch against Real Salt Lake, San Jose and Seattle and the playoffs ahead, it was a fair tradeoff.
David Beckham, making his first appearance in a month, and Landon Donovan, still getting back to full fitness and form following a month off himself, saw extended minutes in difficult conditions. The Galaxy go as go their two biggest stars, so preparing them for the road ahead was the meaningful accomplishment in Commerce City.
“We had to use the game to get David some fitness, some minutes, and the same with Landon coming back,” head coach Bruce Arena told media afterward. “Those are important minutes for those players as we move forward.”
Beckham lasted until the 87th minute, and although he wasn't sharp and had minimal impact, just running around for 90-plus minutes in the Colorado altitude – add in those five minutes of first-half stoppage – was a plus.
OPTA Chalkboard: Galaxy have their chances, but come away with a point
The Englishman, who returned to training last week after spraining his left ankle Sept. 1 against Vancouver, acknowledged he was winded.
“Obviously, I haven't played for three-and-a-half weeks, and it's always tough coming back, especially when you come back at altitude,” he said. “It was always going to be difficult for me, but it was good to get the minutes in, because we have a tough three games coming up before the playoffs, and it would be good to be fully fit for that.”
Donovan, making his third straight start since returning from a hamstring strain in the Sept. 14 win over Colorado at The Home Depot Center, went the full 90, as he did eight days earlier against Toronto FC. He was unhappy that LA won only a point after his sliding, would-be winner in the 29th minute was denied when referee Allen Chapman (in what seemed a reasonable decision) ruled the Galaxy captain fouled Hunter Freeman to get to the ball.
“I'm a little perplexed at what I thought was a little bit of a phantom call on the goal,” Donovan said.
He later questioned the Rapids' resolve as they cling to life in the Western Conference playoff race: “It's a little difficult to play against a team that has to win, and they decide that they're going to defend for large parts of the match. We were a little confused actually at the end that they didn't try to push and win the game.”
The draw eliminated the Galaxy from the Supporters' Shield race and dropped them to fourth in the pecking order – they're a point ahead of Seattle, but the Sounders have a game in hand – in the fight to avoid a first round knock-out game assignment.
“I think at the end of the day we're OK with the point,” Donovan conceded. “Looking back at some of the chances, it's probably a fair result. ... At the end of the game, we pushed a little but to get [three points], but a tie's OK.”