It was one brief moment of class in a dull and lackluster game. One good run, one good pass, one good goal.
It came in the 78th minute at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night and it gave the New York Red Bulls a 2-1 Major League Soccer victory over a strangely out-of-sorts Galaxy team.
Dane Richards made the run and the pass, moving unchallenged through the Galaxy midfield before sending a finely weighted pass through the Galaxy defense.
Juan Pablo Angel did the rest. He collected the ball, rounded advancing goalkeeper Steve Cronin and stuck the ball in the back of the net.
It wasn’t a difficult play. It wasn’t even a spectacular one. It was simply two players doing something well. Something the Galaxy failed to do all evening.
“It was a great counter-attack and a great ball [pass] from Dane,” said Angel, who admitted that he is still trying to play himself back to full fitness after an injury layoff.
Making the goal stick even more in the Galaxy’s craw was the fact that it was scored a mere 120 seconds after the home team had tied the game. Talk about deflating a crowd.
The loss was the second of the season at home for Coach Ruud Gullit’s squad, which fell to 2-3-2. The sellout crowd produced its own verdict. The booing at the end said it all.
“It’s a pity,” Gullit said. “It’s frustrating. The players have possibilities, they can play very good football, but sometimes in a game they switch off. They think they can do it only on talent. But it takes hard work.
“It was a frustrating night, because it was not necessary” to lose.
Who played well for the Galaxy? Well, Mike Randolph, for one. It was Randolph who set up the tying goal. Having worked tirelessly down the left flank all night, the second-year player finally got into the box, beat his defender and sent a cross that Alan Gordon poked home for his third goal of the season.
That was about it for highlights for the Galaxy.
In addition to Randolph, defender Sean Franklin had a solid outing. Outside backs Greg Vanney and Chris Klein worked hard all night, trying to spark the attack as well as defend.
As for David Beckham and Landon Donovan, who have carried the team throughout the season so far, neither enjoyed a memorable evening.
Beckham’s free kicks were all dealt with easily by New York. His corner kicks were even worse, often going straight to the defender at the near post.
Donovan tried to pick it up a little in the late going, but he, too, seemed to lack the urgency and commitment he had shown in earlier games.
The victory improved the Red Bulls’ record to 3-2-1, not exactly cause to celebrate, but considering that the team seems just as disjointed as the Galaxy, it is probably the best Coach Carlos Osorio can hope for this early in the year.
New York took the lead in the 21st minute on South African midfielder Danleigh Borman’s first MLS goal.
The ball was played into the Galaxy penalty area, where Angel flicked it across the goalmouth with a header. It fell to Jozy Altidore, whose shot was blocked by Cronin.
The ball rebounded to Borman, and the rookie didn’t hesitate, blasting it into the net.
The loss left Gullit a little downcast.
“Football is a game of thinking all the time, ‘What if?’ ” he said. “I was happy with the way my team fought back, but giving the goal away after scoring, that shouldn’t happen.”