Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

Galaxy stretch lead to six points thanks in large to set pieces

CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham has been fighting back spasms for close to a month and admittedly doesn’t feel 100 percent healthy, but he’s still been more than good enough for the LA Galaxy.

Just ask FC Dallas, who saw first-hand what he can do despite the ongoing back issues on Saturday night at the The Home Depot Center, where he turned in a vintage performance in a well-earned 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of 21,546.

The 36-year-old had two assists off set pieces, almost scored on another free kick and had a hand in all three Galaxy goals. He is now tied with the Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis for the MLS lead in assists with 10.

“Obviously he’s made quite a reputation for himself over the years on set pieces and he continues to have the ability to serve the ball up in dangerous spots,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Obviously, he’s an important part of our attacking team.”

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The Galaxy were trailing 1-0 after a ninth-minute goal by FC Dallas’ Marvin Chavez when Beckham began to work his magic in the 33rd minute. He sent in a long free kick that went right through the goal area, and Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman practically ran over defender George John while trying to punch the ball clear from danger. But Hartman missed and the ball deflected off of John, straight to the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, who was able to gently head in the loose ball for his second goal of the season.

“When you’re a right-sided player, a player that serves the ball a lot,” Beckham said, “you know if you put the ball in an area between their goalkeeper and defense and you put enough whip on it, there’s always going to be a chance of a clash of bodies or the goalkeeper is going to think it’s coming toward him and it doesn’t.

“I knew there was going to be a chance someone was going to get on the end of it or there was going to be confusion. I tried to put as much on it as possible, and lucky it did that.”

Beckham was at it again in the 62nd minute, when he lofted a free kick that Gregg Berhalter headed back to Juninho standing just outside the penalty area. Juninho hit a low, first time shot that bounced between Hartman and the goal post for a 2-1 Galaxy lead.

Beckham supplied the finishing touch to a satisfying victory when his corner kick in the 81st minute was headed in by Mike Magee – generously listed as 5 feet 10 – for a 3-1 lead.

“David’s one of the best in the world at it, if not the best,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said when asked about his ability on set pieces. “When we get a free kick he’s dangerous.

"The other teams aren’t surprised; they know it’s coming. He puts up such a good ball it doesn’t matter.

“When you continuously put the ball in dangerous areas behind their defense and testing their keeper, it’s going to cause problems. You saw that again tonight.”

LA Galaxy vs FC Dallas Match Recap

Beckham said tying for the league assist lead didn’t interest him.

What did please him was the team’s performance, especially after a poor effort in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss in Portland. Saturday’s victory also gave the first-place Galaxy (13-3-9, 48 points) a six-point advantage over FC Dallas (12-6-6, 42 points) atop the Western Conference.

“Obviously it’s nice to set up goals,” he said, “but it’s more important we’re six points clear. Something we aim to do and it was a good performance tonight.

“I think the first 15 minutes we were still in Portland, but then our character came through. We started fighting. It was all there to see when we started fighting.”

And Beckham doing what he does best.

“I don’t think he’s surprising anybody at this point,” Landon Donovan said. “I think everybody knows what he can do, and it’s our job to get in the right spot and make the right plays once he serves the ball.

“We did a good job of being really dangerous on all our set pieces, and he put the ball where it needed to be every time.”

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