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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Superliga: Bend it like Beckham: LA Galaxy 2 x DC United 0

Steve Goff, of the Washington Post and Soccer Insider, addressed another poor-quality MLS pitch at the Home Depot Center prior to the Superliga semi-final between LA and DC.

"I don't know if it will be evident on tonight's TV broadcast, but the HDC playing surface looks like it was put together with paste and green construction paper by a preschool arts & crafts class. In person, it's an embarrassing sight. Blame the X-Games. Let's hope it meets Becks's specifications. Ug-ly."

Fortunately, what happened on that surface was of the highest quality. As was the broadcast by Telefutura.

David Beckham was given the captain's armband, and started his first game for the LA Galaxy. For the first twelve minutes, according to my unofficial count, Beckham did not touch the ball. But his presence was felt by words, glares, and actions. He went in very hard from behind on a tackle with Jaime Moreno, and was shown the yellow card. A few minutes later, Ben Olsen returned the favor, but was not carded. Becks could only smile.

Jaime Moreno was the protagonist of the early stages. The wily veteran of twelve MLS campaigns saw Galaxy keeper, Joe Cannon, way off of his line. From a few meters inside of the center line, Moreno audaciously sent a chip that was only tipped over the crossbar at the last second by Cannon. It was an incredible example of field vision, experience, and sublime skill.

In the 27th minute, from one of his patented free kicks from about 25 meters, Beckham bent the ball around the DC United wall past a helpless Troy Perkins into the left corner of the goal. Perkins went to his left, but then just watched the ball sail into the net. The crowd erupted, Pablo Ramirez was even more passionate than usual with his patented "Golazo," and Beckham's teammates mobbed him in jubilation.

In the 47th minute, Landon Donovan took a short pass from Beckham. He accelerated down the field, passed two DC defenders, and blasted the ball past Perkins. DC tried to get back in the game, and Luciano Emilio had an excellent shot parried away by Cannon. Abel Xavier, again as in previous games, was a true "stopper" in LA defensive scheme.

Beckham came close again on a free kick in the 67th minute. But this time, Perkins positioned himself properly, and jumped across the goal for a nice save. Five minutes later, Beckham was subbed out of the game.

LA will face Pachuca for the million dollar final payoff on 29 August from the Home Depot Center.

To view the historic goal, please click here. (Courtesy of 101 Great Goals).

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