Thursday, November 3, 2011

Los Angeles Galaxy Advance To Western Conference Finals

I was at the game tonight. The atmosphere was awesome even after New York took a quick 1-0 lead. Galaxy responded right before the half to tie it up and Landon Donovan scored the game winner on a penalty kick.

Galaxy won 2-1 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals against Real Salt Lake. The game is on Sunday at 6pm. (Home Depot Center)

From the Galaxy:
CARSON, Calif. – Mike Magee and Landon Donovan answered Luke Rodgers’ early tally as the LA Galaxy beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal on Thursday night at The Home Depot Center.

On the strength of a 3-1 aggregate victory, the Galaxy advanced to Sunday’s Western Conference Championship against Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy kept their home record intact, picking up their 16th home win in all competitions this year. New York, meanwhile, failed to add to their early goal and limped away from the postseason in the conference semifinal round for the second consecutive season.

Perhaps feeding off the emotional pre-game chatter, Rodgers got the Red Bulls on the scoreboard first. Just four minutes in, Thierry Henry slipped a ball through an uncharacteristic hole in the Galaxy’s backline. Rodgers ran onto it and easily beat Josh Saunders.

Before the ensuing kickoff, though, Rodgers picked up a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Perhaps to punctuate that, the striker later smashed a ball into the stands that was headed across the touchline, nearly nailing a pair of fans in the process.

New York suffered a blow in the 16th minute when midfielder Teemu Tainio was ruled out of the remainder of the match with a hamstring injury. Stephane Auvray replaced him, but the Galaxy took advantage of the move, which seemed to unsettle the Red Bulls.

Galaxy forward Robbie Keane got free a couple of times soon after but Red Bulls ‘keeper Frank Rost made a pair of tremendous saves to keep the hosts from getting on the scoreboard.

Beckham then hit the turf for a few moments as his back seemingly gave out on him after challenging New York's Dane Richards for an aerial ball. Beckham was helped off the field and appeared to be favoring his back, which has hampered him for the majority of the year.

But Beckham returned to the pitch shortly after and, Injury or not, he swung a deadly corner kick into the penalty area in the 42nd minute that Magee buried for the equalizer.

The goal seemed to lift the tension from the hosts, who were trying to avoid their second consecutive home playoff defeat.

Beckham came out for the second half looking spry as his back gave him no noticeable discomfort.

Rodgers broke through in the 57th minute, taking a through ball from Dax McCarty and beating Omar Gonzalez, but Rodgers hit the outside of the net and failed to level the aggregate score.

Henry picked up a yellow card for kicking Gonzalez from behind in the 61st minute.

The Galaxy finally got the break they needed in the 73rd minute when Roy Miller chopped down Beckham from behind inside the penalty area. Donovan buried the ensuing spot kick to give the Galaxy a 2-1 lead in the match and an insurmountable 3-1 aggregate lead.

Picture credit: Galaxy

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