BY ADAM SERRANO
Sean Franklin scored his first career MLS goal as the LA Galaxy dispatched the Columbus Crew, 1-0 in front of a crowd of 24,709 at the Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy may have extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games, but Los Angeles lost David Beckham for their next match against Vancouver Whitecaps due to yellow card accumulation. Beckham picked up the card in the 90th minute when he disputed the placement of a late free kick. With his first goal serving as the game winner, Franklin was understandbly overjoyed after the match.
"It may have deflected and they may call it an own goal, but I'm going to try to claim it as my first goal," said Franklin. "I'm more happy that the team won tonight because we created numerous chances, corners, shots, the whole team effort was just great tonight."
Los Angeles put a great deal of pressure on the Crew from the get go, forcing a number of big saves from William Hesmer, who ended the match with three saves. His finest coming just before halftime when he was able to make a palm save on a Miguel Lopez header from close range. Although the Crew applied the bend, but not break defense, the Galaxy continued their onslaught.
The Galaxy finally broke through in the 70th minute when a Beckham free kick took a deflection off the wall and bounced to Franklin, whose shot took a deflection off a defender before going in. The goal was Franklin's first in MLS and the second career goal for the right back.
Following the goal, Columbus struggled to generate any pressure on the Galaxy backline, which remained solid even without injured defender Omar Gonzalez, who was out with a nose fracture. It was a match that the Crew struggled in from the get-go losing their start forward Andres Mendoza to an apparent hamstring injury just four minutes into the match. Although the Crew conceded an astounding 16 corners on the night, the mood was a positive one following the loss.
"Our defending was great. We defended really good, our guys were fighting hard, and tough to play against and hard to break down," said Hesmer. "There’s only so much pressure you can absorb before you give up one, I don’t want to call it a fluky goal, it was an unfortunate goal that deflected in."
The shutout gave Galaxy back-up goalkeeper Josh Saunders his third shutout of the year and his second since filling in for the injured Donovan Ricketts. Saunders continued his impressive recent run of form making a total of six saves on the night to keep the Crew at bay.
Both teams return to action on the weekend with the Crew continuing their west coast swing against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, while the Galaxy host Manchester City in its final match in the World Football Challenge.