Beckham, Galaxy are left seeing red

So now what do we call him? David “Red Card” Beckham?

Or is it better to reserve the snide remarks for Ricardo Salazar, who Saturday became the first Major League Soccer referee to throw the English icon out of a game?

There was a sign being sported by Seattle fans at the Home Depot Center that read: “Drove 1151 Miles to Boo Beckham.”

They didn’t have much time to do that.


A mere 16 minutes 15 seconds into what ended up as a 2-0 win for the Sounders, Beckham was headed for the showers.

Salazar pointed the way by immediately pulling a red card out of his pocket when Beckham made a studs-up tackle into the leg of former Galaxy midfielder Peter Vagenas.

There seemed little malicious intent behind the tackle, which occurred in the center circle, but Salazar was firm in his decision despite protests from Beckham’s teammates.

Beckham walked off the field looking -- take your pick -- angry, disgusted, resigned. It was the first red card he has received in his three seasons in MLS.

“Obviously, Pete’s one of my best friends,” Beckham said, “so I think it was a hard tackle but by no means a red card. That’s the inconsistency, unfortunately, we’ve got with some of the officials in the league.

“I’ve never gone into a tackle wanting to hurt someone. But the referee saw it different. Maybe he’ll decide against it when he sees the replay, but no, definitely not malicious and, in my eyes, definitely not a red card.”

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said the card was probably deserved.

“When you throw yourself into that kind of tackle, there’s a chance you’re going to get sent off,” he said. “He’s been in enough rodeos,” to know that.

Beckham’s departure meant that the fans were deprived of seeing two of the three legitimate stars that the two teams have.

The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan was confined to the bench for the first half because he is suffering from or recovering from the H1N1 virus. He entered the game in the second half, having received medical clearance.

But the Sounders’ Freddie Ljungberg never made an appearance because of some unknown illness. The Swedish star trained Friday, a Seattle spokesman said, but complained of not feeling well when the team landed in Los Angeles.

After Salazar had put his imprint on the game -- an action for which he was roundly booed by Galaxy fans -- things deteriorated in a hurry for Los Angeles.

Less than six minutes after the red card, Seattle took the lead. The goal was scored by rookie Steve Zakuani, the league’s top draft pick in January.

The Sounders (8-5-8) doubled their lead in the 54th minute and it was Vagenas who started the move.

Vagenas swung a corner kick in from the right, another former Galaxy player, Nate Jaqua, rose to head the ball down, and Fredy Montero sneaked in alertly and drove the loose ball into the net.

It was the Colombian striker’s 10th goal in his rookie MLS season, tying him for second in the league scoring race.

The Sounders vaulted from fourth to second place in the Western Conference, ahead of the Galaxy (7-4-10).

Salazar ejected Seattle’s Tyrone Marshall and the Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis late in the game.