CCL Recap: LA top Alajuelense, strengthen hold on group
CARSON, Calif. — Omar Gonzalez buried a first-half header and Chad Barrett added an insurance goal with less than a quarter-hour remaining as the LA Galaxy silenced Costa Rican champions Alajuelense by 2-0 at the Home Depot Center on Thursday in CONCACAF Champions League play.
The Galaxy's win strengthened their hold on Group A. Morelia beat Motagua at home handily to give LA a three-point edge over both Morelia and Alajuelense, while the Honduran side sits at the bottom with no points from two games. The Galaxy's next CCL date is at Morelia on Sept. 13, and a victory there would give LA a firm grasp on the group.
The Galaxy found out several hours before kickoff that their match scheduled for Sunday in New York had been postponed to Oct. 4, which meant the club would not have concerns over fatigue or trying to save players’ legs for the marquee league match.
Robbie Keane made his second consecutive start for the Galaxy and had several chances, but was unable to make an impact on the match the way he did last Saturday, when he scored in a 2-0 win over San Jose.
Still, the Irish DP came close early on when Landon Donovan nearly picked him out on the far post but Costa Rica’s Geancarlo González cleared the ball just before Keane could get to it.
David Beckham, who earlier had picked up a yellow card after delaying a restart, accounted for the first goal. The star midfielder swung a corner kick to the front of the net and Omar Gonzalez, at least a head taller than most of his Costa Rican counterparts, buried a header into the back of the net to give LA the 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Alajuelense put some pressure on the Galaxy goal and even put a ball past ‘keeper Josh Saunders. However, LA got off the hook as the goal was nullified due to offside.
In the 77th minute, the Galaxy got the insurance goal they needed. Beckham started the play off with a pass to Sean Franklin on the right side of the field. Franklin slipped a ball to the front of the goal and Barrett ran onto it and easily buried it into the back of the net.
For Barrett, it was his first appearance since July 4 and his fifth goal in all competitions.
The only blemish for the Galaxy came late in the match, when midfielder Juninho was sent off in the 88th minute after throwing an elbow at Alajuelense’s Christopher Meneses. The card means Juninho will miss LA’s match at Morelia.
LA – Omar Gonzalez 1 (David Beckham 2) 38’
LA – Chad Barrett 1 (Sean Franklin 1) 77’
LA – David Beckham (Yellow Card) 31’
LDA – Jhonny Acosta (Yellow Card) 60’
LA – Landon Donovan (Yellow Card) 68’
LA – Mike Magee (Yellow Card) 77’
LA – Juninho (Red Card) 88’
LA Galaxy: Josh Saunders; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter (Sean Franklin 27’), Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan©, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee; Adam Cristman (Chad Barrett 71’), Robbie Keane (Chris Birchall 91+).
Subs Not Used: Brian Perk, Frankie Hejduk, Michael Stephens, Miguel Lopez.
LD Alajuelense: Ivan Garcia; Jose Salvatierra, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Jhonny Acosta, Cristopher Meneses; Kevin Sancho (Cristian Oviedo 84’), Marcelo Sarvas, Juan Guzman (Cristian Lagos 83’), Allen Guevara, Pablo Gabas©; Alejandro Alpizar (Carlos Clark 75’).
Subs Not Used: Esteban Carrillo, Elias Palma, Jorge Davis, Minor Diaz.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (MEX)
Referee’s Assistants: Jose Luis Camargo (MEX) and Alberto Morin (MEX)
4th Official: Mauricio Morales (MEX)