Beckham shines as Galaxy eliminate Red Bulls to reach Western Conference Final

BeckhamKeane (ISIPhotos.com)

BY ADAM SERRANO

CARSON, Calif. — David Beckham has enjoyed his finest season in MLS and on Thursday in the Los Angeles Galaxy's most important game of the season, Beckham led his team to Conference Final. 

Dealing with back spasms that nearly forced him out of the game in the first half, the Galaxy's midfielder sparked Los Angeles' rally as the Galaxy defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-1 advancing to the Western Conference Final against Real Salt Lake 3-1 on aggregate. Helping set up both goals on the night, there was no question of Beckham's influence on the result. 

"His effort was great tonight," said head coach Bruce Arena. "He's a player with an unbelievable desire to win and I think when we went down a goal, David helped pick up the team and his energy in the second half and earning that penalty kick was all David. I think that he was an inspiration to our team." 

Starting the match with Dax McCarty filling in for the suspended Rafa Marquez, the Red Bulls bursted out of the gate. New York struck first in the fourth minute when Luke Rodgers raced onto a Thierry Henry pass and beat Omar Gonzalez before firing a shot past Josh Saunders for the goal.

As the half wore on, the Red Bulls continued to push ahead, but were dealt a blow in the 16th minute when influential midfielder Teemu Tainio went out with a right hamstring injury. Without the Finnish midfielder, the Red Bulls midfield appeared to lose an edge that the Galaxy began to exploit.

"The injury to Tainio was a tough one for us," McCarty told reporters after the match. "We had a very good rhythm, we were passing it through LA’s midfield like they weren’t even there. But it definitely changes. Stephane [Auvray] came in a did a great job, but at the end of the day LA seized the momentum at that point." 

Los Angeles nearly suffered their own injury in the 31st minute when Beckham collided with New York midfielder Dane Richards while attempting to head down a ball. Moments later, Beckham was on the ground in clear pain and was eventually led off the field.

While it seemed that Beckham would be substituted, he re-entered the game in just four minutes later after receiving smelling salts on the sidelines. After appearing to struggle with his injury initially, Beckham put the Galaxy up on aggregate in the 42nd when he fired in a corner that Mike Magee headed past Red Bulls goalkeeper Frank Rost. 

"We started off bad and it wasn’t what we’d planned. It was disappointing to start but I think the way we adjusted ourselves showed character in our players and our team," said Beckham."We played a lot better once we got into the game, once we calmed down, once our nerves calmed down."

New York attempted to find an equalizer, the Galaxy found an insurance goal with Beckham once again serving as the catalyst. In the 74th minute, Red Bulls defender Roy Miller cut down the Englishman with a kick in the box that resulted in a penalty kick. Just a minute later, Landon Donovan buried the penalty to give Los Angeles a two-goal cushion in the series.

The Galaxy will face Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final on Sunday at 9pm EST at the Home Depot Center. Although the Galaxy are just a single match from reaching MLS Cup for the second time in three years, they are aware that three day turn-around may play a role. 

"It’s not ideal but we’re happy to be in this position, we’re happy to have this problem but ideally, I’m sure Salt Lake would be the same – they’d prefer a few days rest," said Beckham. "But it is what it is and we’re happy to be in the position we’re in."

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63 Responses to Beckham shines as Galaxy eliminate Red Bulls to reach Western Conference Final

  1. Chad says:

    “Down a goal, the Galaxy threw numbers forward….”

    — Fixed

  2. Troy says:

    As soon as Tanio went down, Red Bulls were inept. WTF.

  3. Joamiq says:

    Congrats to LA. They were dominant for the rest of the first half after that, and the Red Bulls never really recovered. LA deserves to move on.

  4. Dimidri says:

    For all the complaining about the MLS playoffs, this has been great so far and is shaping up to be even better in the last three games!

  5. Jason B says:

    I’m a little worried for David Beckham’s health. He looked pretty shaken up after that big collision. You could see he was wobbly when walking off the field and then used smelling salts on the sideline before coming back on. It didn’t look like he banged his head on anything but still…Maybe it was a stinger or something?

  6. Neruda says:

    Gals aren’t always the flashiest but they’re effective alright. Should be a good match between RSL and LA.

    Donovan already bemoaning the fact that RSL has an extra day of rest. I gotta think that home field counts for as much if not more.

    Hoping Olave and Borchers can play. C’mon RSL!

  7. Jason B says:

    Yep, the Conference Finals are 1 v 2 and 1 v 3, with no teams switching over from one conference to the other.

  8. Dimidri says:

    Awesome that FCD got punished for trying to play through the East and that RSL beat SSFC fair and square. Oh and NYRB wasn’t able to overcome their horrible season, the cream has risen to the top.

  9. ImaGoalMan says:

    It was a great game to watch on ESPN Deportes. If you can keep up with the spanish, they really add to the telecast, and don’t do a lot of pandering and comment diarrhea that many US announcers feel the need to inject. Best part….calling Becks “Spice Boy” as he was leaving the pitch.

  10. Edwin in LA says:

    Well if there’s ever a year for an MLS team with a DP to win the MLS title, it has to be this year.

    As it stands the chances of a team with a DP winning it all are 75% since Sporting Kansas City has Omar Bravo, both teams in the West Final; Los Angeles Galaxy have 3 DPs in Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane and Real Salt Lake have Alvaro Saborio who I believe became a DP after last year’s successful campaign.

    Even if Houston were to win the East, there would still be a 50-50 chance of a DP winning an MLS Cup, if SKC wins, then for sure the “DP curse” if you will is officially over.

    I hope we see Jefferson in the Eastern Conference Final, that guy would do wonders against a team like Houston so long as he stays tough and doesn’t let himself get intimidated or pushed around

  11. soccerhorn says:

    Just got back from the game. Great night. I sat right in front of Rodgers. What a tool. And talk about the tale of two DP’s – Beckham nearly gave his life to give his team the win, while Henri walked around and complained all night long. Both teams got what they deserved.

  12. Hopper says:

    Donovan’s body must be depleting … from a hydration standpoint. I feel like it’s great he scored another penalty, but for me, he should be a dominating force in these games for the Galaxy, but most of the time, he’s invisible.

    Nice save on the cross to Rodgers though.

  13. Alex says:

    Shimmy shimmy cocoa puffs?? Harkes has really outdone himself lately.

  14. Chad says:

    I’m Chad and I’m retarded.

  15. dgoshilla says:

    Driving home from the HDC tonight I was thinking the same thing. A day less of rest for the SS winners. Regardless of the importance of that I’m just wondering how that makes any sense.

  16. Gnarls says:

    He’s been playing with a hairline spinal fracture all season. He took a couple hard knocks tonight.

  17. Gnarls says:

    Haha… chico picante?

  18. Gnarls says:

    Amen to that. Maybe it takes DPs five 4 years in MLS before the start giving a sh*t? I say that as a loving Angelino who also just got back from the game.

  19. Gnarls says:

    brain fart. Four years.

  20. Ricky B. Free says:

    The queality of the games has been bad to average. But the teams that are left in the playoffs play a good style.

    The best is still to come.

  21. MemphisRogues says:

    Vince McMahon: Who is Luke Rogers? Oh yeah. He’s the guy on that team who made alot of noise but can’t play. That’s the beautiful game.

  22. RETARDS ANONYMOUS says:

    Hello Chad

  23. Sweet Symphony says:

    In what sport have you ever seen a player require smelling salts, whilst looking dazed after what (fairly clearly) appeared to be a head injury?

    Case in point, John Harkes was claiming it looked like it was a back injury, so we know from that criteria alone it’s something else.

  24. Juan says:

    Notts county, lower English soccer division. That’s where a classless brawler (although I admire his effort) like Rogers and his completely lost coach should return. NYRB were without a doubt the most overpaid team, and most underachieving franchise and coaching staff, in the history of this league. The Galaxy, their coaches and players showed how wide the gap has become between a true professional team in MLS with leaders and chemistry and depth, and the Soler/Backe debacle.

  25. Sweet Symphony says:

    Harkes is the poo-stain on American sports announcing.

    Why they don’t promote Taylor Twellman to lead color-commentator is beyond me. The guy is a star-in-the-making within the booth.

    ESPN made a good step forward moving on from JP Dellacamera. They could make a huge leap forward moving on from John Harkes. The American soccer community is ready to, that’s for sure.

  26. Adam M. says:

    LA won because NY is terrible on set pieces (2 goals) and has poor judgment (penalty), but LA failed to score from the run of play, Donovan was a non-factor, and they looked extremely beatable on defense (anyone still think Omar is ready for national duty after getting burned by Luke Rodgers all night?). Beckham, and to a lesser extent Keane, were fabulous, and the abscence of Juninho was obvious. But NY has to be beating themselves up over dropping these very winnable games and has to spend the offseason figuring out how to defend set pieces and generally calming down. Mike Magee and Roy Miller are not the reasons you should fail to advance.

  27. pd says:

    Your mom is fixed…

  28. pd says:

    Your mom is retarded…

  29. Pd says:

    He should drink more Gatorade.

  30. poo says:

    “(anyone still think Omar is ready for national duty after getting burned by Luke Rodgers all night?). ”

    very true, he got turned inside out several times.

    Ream on the other hand was rock solid last night – non of his typical brain farts.

    I think and hope both get a chance soon.

  31. pd says:

    True enough about Magee et al, but the mark of an effective team is having those “second wave” players that can get the job done while you Marcuse players absorb the attention, coverage, etc. The more energy you spend attending to the likes of Keane, Beckham, LD, the more room players like Magee have to take advantage…

  32. pd says:

    Marquee players…

  33. Chan says:

    I agree with this assessment. The RB game turned for the worse when Teemu left the field. This was the same as earlier in the season when he was out. The common theme of poor set piece defending and brain farts this season was the theme last night. RB also has to come up with new plans for getting into the final third that do not involve unproductive crosses from the flanks. A DeRo have losened up the Gals defense from setting up shop in the middle. I would have to agree that Becks truly earned his pay this year; I hope that TH14 can bring the goals and be influential like he was in the first 20 minutes for next year. As for LD, I thought his celebration for the PK was not proportional to his contribution to the game.

  34. BrianK says:

    Congratulations to the Galaxy. As a NYRB season ticket holder I am disappointed with their season but pleased to see the Supporters Shield winner advance.

    Looking forward to an LA v KC MLS Cup.

    For what it is worth – long term Tim Ream is a solid prospect for the USMNT. Have feeling that Marquez was chipping away at the young man’s confidence.

  35. cj says:

    its Rodgers, and LA is only 18k below NY is salary.

  36. Chyeah says:

    Uhhh…Henry was very, very good what game were you watching?

  37. Chyeah says:

    Go figure that Tim Ream was significantly better than Omar last night…

  38. Format says:

    As an MLS supporter, it pains me to see the #1 and #3, in points during the season, match up while the #4 and #5 square off in the opposite match.

    While relegation is a pipe dream, a single table shouldn’t be. The conference system is a farce and this year, like several before it, are proving this reality.

    Additionally, I highly favor the Supporter Shield winner getting a first round bye, entirely. When the league begins to reward this trophy more seriously, I imagine the clubs will take the overall season more seriously.

    As of right now, our current format continues to show the regular season means very little and it invites casual fans to disregard the bulk of the season, much like the NBA is disregarded until after Christmas.

  39. Eurosnob says:

    Yes, the Red Bulls missed Teemu, when he went down with an injury, but the Galaxy also did not have Juninho and Beckham played through an injury. I am not an LA supporter, but LA was a better team in both games and deserved to win this series.

  40. Eurosnob says:

    Adam, even with all the problems that you identified, LA outscored NYRB 3 to 1 in this series. If Donovan kicks it up a notch, they will be hard to contend with.

  41. ZoroEatsYou says:

    #MetroPlayoffFailure.

  42. Aaron in StL says:

    Could have been either, or both. He’s getting up there. Had some brass ones going, you could tell he was favoring his back regardless. Back pain is killer, so I was impressed he kept going.

    Have you ever used salts before? Obviously more commonly used with head injuries but that’ll clear your mind of any thought of any pain, wherever. His knees were definitely clattering when he was getting to the sideline though

  43. ryan says:

    Agreed. Taylor Twellman is a great commentator. I haven’t been able to find a link to ESPN feedback on the commentators.

  44. Charles says:

    Hopefully the media darlings/favorites are out of the news until early next year when they will skew winning 1 out of 3 games in the playoffs to be:

    “NYRB, the most talented team in MLS, which showed last year they are capable of a very good run at the MLS Cup”

  45. ANM says:

    There were a couple of moments when I was seriously wondering if Harkes was drunk. He’s never great, but he seemed… really weird last night.

  46. assocfoot says:

    People who take away from that game that Omar is bad and Ream is good are missing something. Yes, Omar has things to work on, but the Galaxy as a team were caught off guard and took a while to adjust to the way Henry was coming back to pick up the ball. Omar did make a mistake on the goal but it was as much about the lack of pressure on Henry as it was about Omar. Rodgers did not beat Omar all night as some have suggested. On one other occasion where Rodgers got off a shot on a similar play, it was more AJ’s missed cover, if anything. Ream was better than he has been recently, which I am happy to see as a USMNT fan hoping for some young centerbacks to develop, but let’s not overstate the importance of this one game in the Ream/Gonzalez comparison. Gonzalez has been better for most of the season. I prefer either one of these guys (or Cameron, or John) to Orozco Fiscal, but not ready to give up on Omar as one of the possible solutions to USMNT need to renew the CB’s.

  47. Sweet Symphony says:

    Fair point.

    Though, having used salts before I’ve only witnessed/experience those involving head issues. More specifically in football when knocked out, it was used to help you come to.

    I’ll admit I’ve never heard of them used for general pain distraction.

  48. CMac says:

    You believe correctly: RSL used DP dollars for Saborio’s transfer fee, but the dude only makes about $250,000/year.

  49. beachbum says:

    it doesn’t make sense.

  50. Poo says:

    Lando seems to have lost his killer speed, now he is more of a passer, most of the time backwards.

  51. CMac says:

    Preaching to the choir…

  52. Catamount says:

    I’d say Lando dominated in the second half, not with attacks on goal but with orchestrating possession and defending. He single-handedly saved the game on the Dane Richards cross, tracking back 80 yards to put the ball behind in front of Rogers. LD has set aside attacking duties so other players can express themselves. I don’t think he is fully recovered from injury and comfortable. His leadership is the heart and soul of the Galaxy.

  53. Catamount says:

    If you are going to evaluate a defender, you need to take a look at all aspects of the role. Ream continuously lost in the air to both Barrett and Keane who were able to flick on the long kicks with impunity. Omar dominated in the air. Reams passes out of the back were short and simple, Omar played longer balls, switched ball and balls to the feet of the forwards. True Omar did have a lower connect percentage but he played more effective balls. The Galaxy held a much higher line than NY which depends upon the ability of the midfield to apply pressure to the ball. When Henry dropped into the midfield NY had numbers up. Omar should have tracked Henry all the way into the midfield as he and AJ began to do later when the Galaxy controlled the game. Instead, Omar and AJ were caught flat and split. Backe has taken a lot of responsiblity away from Ream so he no longer is required to track forwards into the midfield, reducing the number of decisions he has to make. Finally Omar and AJ both have been given the freedom and responsibility to push the ball forward when they have space in front of them. Omar makes runs all the way into the offensive third. Ream isn’t trusted with to do those sorts of things. Omar is learning to be a complete player, to do the things top flight international players need to do. Ream has been relegated to a much less responsible role. Hopefully Ream will be given the freedom to learn, but Omar is miles ahead at the moment.

  54. marco says:

    Beckham was in great pain for most of the 2nd half. NYRB may have noticed as they took shots at his back whenever they could. There may be some doubt about him starting against RSL.

  55. marco says:

    I agree. Omar had some poor moments wide with Franklin playing as a mid for much of the match. He didn’t do anything to make the first 11, but nothing so bad he shouldn’t be called up with Ream and Orozco.

  56. Edwin in LA says:

    Pretty good for a guy that will get you 15-18 goals. I know he only got around 12 this season but he missed a lot of time with Gold Cup and qualifiers plus an injury or two and not having Javi Morales, can’t wait to see him next season with Morales healthy a whole season, possible Golden Boot winner based on Wondo’s production last two year’s and this year’s winner of DeRo

  57. Edwin in LA says:

    Ummm the 1st goal scored in NY on Sunday by Mike Magee was NOT off a set pieces, there was a psss off the free kick, a pass back to Beckham I believe when he came in more central than where the free kick took place and THEN he made the cross so not sure how much that is not from the run of play?

    Ball was alive, no pressure on either Beckham or Magee, no excuses at that point they had time to get a man on either after free kick was tapped back for restart and then Beckham trying to reposition?

  58. eric says:

    PLEASE! no more Twellman. Dude’s dim.

  59. Adam M. says:

    That’s true the same way its true that a corner is not a corner if the cross comes in after a short pass, which is to say, its still a set piece problem and goal directly resulting from one.

  60. Adam M. says:

    Yes, and my point was that LAs 3 goals were all due to glaring Red Bull mistakes rather than LA’s brilliance. They were very preventable.

  61. This Guy says:

    It’s “in” not “is”!

  62. beachbum says:

    hope that’s not so, Beckham really did shine last night.

  63. beachbum says:

    thanks for that analysis. cheers