Thursday, October 07, 2010

Beckham, Galaxy down Union

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - MLS' version of The Beatles invaded a sold out PPL Park Thursday night as David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and the rest of the LA Galaxy topped the Philadelphia Union 1-0.

Buddle, MLS' leading goal scorer, netted the only marker of the night off an assist by Beckham, and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was brilliant for the Galaxy (17-6-5), who garnered three more points in their quest for the Supporters Shield, which is given to the MLS team with the best regular season record.

LA is now five points ahead of Real Salt Lake with two games to play. RSL, which plays at New York on Saturday, has three matches remaining.

"It was a great defensive effort and we did enough to get the goal," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.

Ignited by a PPL Park record crowd of 18,779 the Union (7-14-7) pressed the action and had plenty of chances early. In the third minute Sebastien Le Toux blasted a free kick from distance that showed impressive bend but Ricketts was up to the task and knocked it away.

A minute later Stefani Miglioranzi had a chance from close range off a Justin Mapp corner kick but misfired. In the 10th minute, it was Mapp to Miglioranzi again off the corner kick and the Italian midfielder's header was swept away. Then, in the 18th minute Le Toux nearly found Danny Mwanga on a crossing pass
in the box but it was just out of the rookie's reach.

After weathering that storm, LA struck in the 27th minute when Beckham lofted a perfect corner kick into the box and Buddle headed it past Philadelphia goalkeeper Brad Knighton for his 16th marker of the season, three more than Le Toux, New York's Juan Pablo Angel and Toronto's Dwayne De Rosario.

The goal seemed to take the air out of the Union for the rest of the first half but the club regrouped at intermission and generated a number of opportunities in the second half.

Mapp nearly evened it in the 49th minute but his long strike sailed over the net.

In the 62nd minute Sheanon Williams nearly found a sliding Le Toux in the box with a crossing pass but LA was able to spoil things.

Le Toux then had his best chance of the night in the 73rd minute. Andrew Jacobson found the All-Star in the box, who redirected a nifty back-footed shot but Ricketts made a brilliant diving save.

Ricketts made another nice stop in the 75th minute on Shea Salinas' blast from a tough angle to the right of the net.

Knighton got his turn in the 78th minute and kept the Union in it when he raced out to stop a Donovan shot.

In the end, however, the Union could never solve Ricketts  and suffered their first loss on the pitch at PPL Park since a 2-1 setback to Columbus back on Aug. 5. Ricketts, meanwhile, finished with three saves en route to his 11th clean sheet of the year.

"The pressure was good. We never stopped, We never gave up," Union team manger Peter Nowak said. "I'm sure [the players] are disappointed but  it we played with great effort."

Philadelphia will now finish its home schedule with a match against the Red Bulls on Oct. 16 and  then close out its inaugural season in Columbus on Oct. 24.

State of the UNION:

*The Union also fell to the Galaxy, 3-1, at the Home Depot Center back on May 1 when Buddle recorded a hat trick.

*This was just Beckham's fifth appearance of the year with the Galaxy and third start. The English star, who was roundly booed every time he touched the ball, returned from a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in mid-March while on loan to AC Milan. The Sons of Ben also had a little chant waiting for Beckham:
"Cheat on your wife -- Spice up you life." Beckham, of course, is married to former Spice Girl Victoria "Posh" Beckham.

*The Sons of Ben are an integral part of Union games and helped get Philadelphia an MLS franchise but more than one parent has told me a Union game is no place to bring the children thanks in large part to some of the SOB's off-colored chants. The spreading of that kind of attitude could hurt the franchise down the line.

*Union midfielder Fred was busted open in the 13th minute after taking an elbow from LA's Juninho during a mid-air collision. Philly played a man down for a minute or so before making a move and sending Kyle Nakazawa on as a substitution.

*The Union's other substitutions were Salinas for Jacobson in the 73rd minute and Roger Torres getting Mapp in the 82nd minute.

*Veteran MF Eduardo Coudet missed his seventh straight game with a strained right calf,

*Alejandro Moreno, who player for the Galaxy from 2002-04 and won an MLS Cup with them in '02, wasn't available tonight. The striker joined the Venezuelan National Team earlier this week for a pair on international friendlies in Bolivia and Mexico. Moreno is scheduled to return to the Union on Oct. 14 and
should be available for the team's final home match this season against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Oct. 16. The veteran Moreno has two markers this season and five assists, which is second best on the club behind Le Toux's 10. Union team captain Danny Califf was also a member of LA from '00-'04 and was also the '02 Cup team.

*Union defender Cristian Arrieta returned to the Union today after a stint with Puerto Rican National Team, which was competing in the qualifying round of the 2010 Caribbean Championship. The 31-year-old played the entire 90 minutes in Puerto Rico's first and second matches, wins against Anguilla and San Martin. Arrieta, who was not dressed tonight, scored his first goal as a national team player against San Martin.

*Goalkeeper Brian Perk made his return to PPL Park after being waived by the Union in late July. The California native was claimed by LA in early August.

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