Friday, November 4, 2011

LA Down New York, Move on to face Real Salt Lake

The second leg of the Galaxy/Red Bulls series started off with a bang. Luke Rodgers found the back of the net just four minutes in and brought the teams level on aggregate. From there, MLS fans were treated to a fantastic display worthy of the playoffs.

Mike Magee played hero in responding with his second goal of the series. It came from a David Beckham corner kick that Magee nodded home as if it was nothing. From there the tackles got rougher and the shots got harder. On multiple occasions to close the first half Frank Rost was called upon to shut down Robbie Keane and the LA attack. Despite the flurry, LA and New York went into the half tied and 1-1 with the Galaxy maintaining a one goal lead on aggregate.

With speculation mounting that Hans Backe would insert Juan Agudelo at the half, no such change came. Baffling is the lack of playing time Agudelo has seen in the playoffs and fans are wondering what the youngster must have done to be so off his radar.

The second half started with the same energy as the first. Both sides created multiple opportunities and Luke Rodgers continued to get in behind the LA defense. At one point it was almost certain he would tap home a ball if not for Landon Donovan turning on the jets to track back 90 yards and deflect the play. Donovan was a ghost until that moment of the match. Still the two teams kept going and the goalkeepers of each side were called into action.

Cards were in abundance as Rodgers and Henry both picked up yellows.

As the second half wore on the play calmed down, until the 74th minute when David Beckham earned a PK off a challenge from Roy Miller. Landon Donovan stepped up and buried the ball from the spot and the Galaxy took the lead 3-1 on aggregate. Beckham certainly put in his time and came off exhausted mid-way through the second half. It was questionable whether he'd make it through the first half after taking a serious knock that left him woozy. He persevered though and made crucial contributions to the Galaxy attack. Say what you will about David Beckham, but his efforts this season have been herculean.

The Galaxy held on to the lead and finished the game out 2-1 and 3-1 on aggregate. It was fitting as over the season and over the series, the Galaxy were consistently the best team and the cream of the crop. They'll face Real Salt Lake on Sunday at the Home Depot Center.

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