By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Los Angeles Galaxy cleared the ball off the line twice in stoppage time and saw a shot hit the crossbar with moments left in its 1-0 win over the New England Revolution. The Galaxy secured the win thanks to a goal in the 69th minute by Miguel Lopez from a David Beckham cross. The Revolution will feel it did enough to get at least a draw, even three points if the Revs could have finished the chances early.
“It was definitely frustrating to come away losing one-nil. First half, I thought we did great. We made some chances but never took them,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol.
The Revolution (3-5-4, 13 pts.) came into the game with LA (8-2-5, 29 pts.) on a bit of a slump. The Revs lost last weekend in league action on the road to the San Joe Earthquakes, 2-1, and followed that up by exiting the U.S. Open Cup by losing, 5-0, to Kansas City in the midweek. But the poor run of form didn’t seem to deter New England as it tried to push the Galaxy in the opening minutes.
New England got an early chance in the 9th minute when Zak Boggs sent an early ball into the box that bounced past a streaking Rajko Lekic. The big forward couldn’t get on the end of the cross despite lunging. No one was at the back post to clean up. The chance was an early indicator of the Revolution’s intentions to attack quick and get early balls into the box.
Again, New England came at the Galaxy with a cross from the wing in the 12th minute. Chris Teirney was sprung by a pass from Shalrie Joseph that found the space on the outside of the Los Angeles defense. Tierney whipped in the cross, but no one was able to finish for the Revolution.
Los Angeles didn’t sit back and just absorb the pressure, instead the Galaxy did what it has done best all year: attack quickly and through the channels.
Galaxy Forwards Chad Barrett got a chance to open the scoring in the 24th minute when a long ball in the air took a bad bounce on the turf and turned Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane inside out. Barrett drove into the box, but couldn’t beat Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, who turned the shot away for a corner.
The Revs weren’t out of danger yet, though. On the ensuing corner, Omar Gonzalez got his head on the cross and hit the crossbar, the ball then bounced off the goal-line. Landon Donovan couldn’t get the free rebound on net from a few feet out. He should have done better with the chance, but sliced it wide.
David Beckham got himself into the game for the Galaxy in the second half after a quiet first half. In the 67th minute with a booking for a poor challenge on Lekic. Minutes later, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United winger got on the positive end of the score sheet.
The ball popped out to Beckham on the right side with time and space in the 69th minute. He did what he does best and whipped a cross into the box and found Miguel Lopez waiting in a good position. Lopez snapped a header across the goal and into the side netting, Reis never had a chance.
“Mentally, we just fell asleep on that goal. We know we can’t give David (Beckham) all that time to cross balls — he just puts in great balls. He put a ball in a great area and it was a great finish,” said Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph about conceding the goal and giving too much space to David Beckham.
The goal is all the Galaxy would need to seal the win. But the Revolution didn’t go without a fight.
The Revolution’s best chances came in stoppage time when the team got desperate and pushed all its able bodies forward. The first chance came after Kevin Alston sent a ball into the box from the right side. Galaxy goalkeeper Donvan Ricketts came to punch the ball out but found Lekic’s head instead. The rebound bounced to Zack Schilawski — who came on as a second half substitute for Stephen McCarthy — and the forward hit the ball solid and low and on net with seemingly no one in the way. Somehow Los Angeles defender A.J. DeLaGarza made a last ditch effort and blocked the shot off the line. On the rebound, Sainey Nyassi got to the touchline and sent in another cross towards Schilawski who hit the ball one time and saw his shot clank off the crossbar. Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph was there to clean up, but saw his effort cleared off the line as well, this time by Landon Donovan.
“I thought (the ball) was in, I swear to God. I was going to celebrate Zack (Schilawsk’s) goal. Sainey (Nyassi) played just a great ball and I thought Zack finished it. It hit the post and I was watching it in the air. I saw the other guy and I was just concentrating a little too much on him instead of the ball. I tried to get my head onto it, and I think they cleared it off the line,” said Joseph. “We were celebrating – Sainey was celebrating like it went in, but the third official said it didn’t get in. We didn’t get that break that we needed tonight.”
The Revolution head to Dallas next week to take on FC Dallas on Saturday, June 4, and the team will need to improve it’s goalscoring if it hopes to get itself back into contention for an MLS Cup playoff spot. Time is running out for the Revolution to get back in the hunt because the chance could be long gone before August.
- Ryan Cochrane was substituted at half-time because of a head injury he suffered in the first half. Franco Coria came on for him and was the man marking Lopez on the goal.
- Benny Feilhaber was named tot he U.S. Gold Cup Roster for this summer and was scheduled to play next weekend when the U.S. Men’s National Team takes on World Cup winner Spain at Foxborough, but that was thrown into doubt as he was taken off the field late in the game. Things don’t look bright for the midfielder.
- The Revolution’s goal scoring struggles continue: the Revs have scored just 10 games in 12 games this season and now have a -5 goals against average.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.