Galaxy goes on as Chivas again can’t move forward
It was an emotional Sunday evening, with feelings running high in both Major League Soccer locker rooms -- joy in one and despair in the other.
Over in the Galaxy’s quarters, David Beckham was holding forth on the bumps and bruises he had suffered in a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA that advanced the Galaxy to Friday’s Western Conference final, also in Carson, against the Houston Dynamo.
“It’s sore,” Beckham said of his bruised back. “I got a knee in my back and it went into spasm. I also twisted my ankle. It’ll be fine. We’ll see how it is tomorrow after an injection and a cold bath and some sleep tonight and maybe a glass of wine to numb the pain.”
It will take more than one glass to ease Chivas’ pain. For the fourth consecutive year, the team was ousted in the first round of the MLS playoffs. That it came at the hands of the Galaxy was particularly difficult to swallow.
Slumped on a chair in the Chivas locker room, midfielder Jesse Marsch tried to accept the defeat.
“All in all, the last four years have been good,” he said. “This year has been good. The most disappointing thing is we can’t seem to get over that hump of the first round.
“It’s frustrating, and difficult to put in perspective because emotionally we’re all pretty beat up right now. When we lost to Kansas City two years ago when we were the No. 1 seed, that was devastating, but this is pretty close as well.”
It was Landon Donovan -- who else? -- who did the damage, scoring on a penalty kick in the 73rd minute after Chivas defender Yamith Cuesta had fouled the Galaxy’s Mike Magee.
There was no question about the foul, and Donovan made no mistake with the resulting penalty kick.
“It was never going to be a five- or six-goal thriller,” Beckham said. “We knew it was going to be tough and we knew whoever scored the first goal was likely to win the game because it’s so tight between us two.”
The teams tied the first game in the two-game, total-goals series, 2-2, the previous Sunday. During the regular season, the teams played to a 0-0 tie and the Galaxy also won twice by a 1-0 score.
“We worked hard,” Beckham said. “We knew that if we defended well, then we’d get our chances. I think our back four tonight were exceptional. When we defend like that, there’s always a chance we’re going to win.”
The play that led to the goal was initiated by Beckham, who was at the halfway line on the right side of the Home Depot Center field when he swung a curling cross into Donovan’s path on the far left.
Donovan cut in behind the Chivas defense and crossed the ball back into the penalty area for Magee, who was taken down hard by Cuesta’s high-footed challenge.
Referee Ricardo Salazar immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Donovan did the rest.
It was all too much for Chivas Coach Preki, who looked more than a little haggard after the highs and lows of a tumultuous MLS season had again ended up with a loss.
“Give them credit,” he said of the Galaxy. “What are you going to do? They made one play and they won the game and they’re going to the next round.
“We made poor decisions all night in the final third. They were there to be beaten, but we didn’t make the play and they did. It’s as simple as that.”
There was a bit of a brouhaha at the final whistle with some pushing and shoving and some angry words between players, but it was tempest-in-a-teapot stuff.
“It was just emotion, that’s all,” said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena. “That happens. It’s never good, but that’s all it was. It’s no big deal, except the television cameras were there.”
Arena praised both teams for their commitment.
“It was a real battle,” he said. “I think both teams should be commended. They played real hard. Chivas deserves a lot of credit for a good, tough performance. They certainly had a very good year. We respect what they brought to the series.”
Donovan, meanwhile, was still talking about Beckham’s pass that led to the goal.
“That’s why he’s David Beckham and that’s why he’s on our team,” Donovan said. “He made a difference tonight.”