CARSON, Calif. — David Beckham scored the winning goal in unique style as the LA Galaxy ended the Chicago Fire’s eight-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham's 65th-minute corner kick trickled all the way past Sean Johnson and into the Fire net to help the Galaxy retake the lead for good and extend their own unbeaten run to 12 straight matches.
It wasn't as easy as it seemed for LA, however. Straight from kickoff, the speed of the Fire’s attackers — especially Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro — created some early opportunities for Chicago. The Galaxy defense was busy, but managed hold off their rivals thanks to some early saves from 'keeper Josh Saunders.
The Galaxy offense came out listless in the first frame, failing to put a single shot on goal. Their best chance came as the half came to a close, when Landon Donovan had shot in the box blocked. Just before the halftime whistle, Chicago's Jalil Anibaba put a header just wide of Saunders' net.
The goals finally came in the second half.
In the 58th minute, Galaxy midfielder Paolo Cardozo did the hard running to earn a free kick deep near the corner, as Chicago defender Logan Pause bundled him out of bounds. Beckham served the ball up well to the far post, where Donovan was able to outjump Gonzalo Segares and angle his header into the goal.
The Fire answered back in the 62nd minute, when Nyarko’s cross into the Galaxy box was met by Cristian Nazarit, who put a powerful header past Saunders.
But only three minutes later, Beckham put the Galaxy into the lead for good as his corner kick found the goal.
Late in the match, tempers flared when Chris Birchall hit Nyarko hard with late tackle. Angry Fire players surrounded the Galaxy midfielder and one, Josip Mikulic, was ejected with a red card. Birchall received a yellow for the tackle, and LA held on for the victory.
With the victory, the Galaxy improved to 10-2-9 and extended their lead atop the Western Conference to five points over FC Dallas. LA next take on Real Madrid in a friendly at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 16.
The Fire dropped to 2-5-12 and missed a chance to distance themselves further from Eastern cellar-dwellers New England. They next host Portland on July 16.
LA -- Landon Donovan 9 (David Beckham 8) 58
CHI -- Cristian Nazarit 2 (Patrick Nyarko 4) 62
LA -- David Beckham 2 (unassisted) 65
CHI -- Daniel Paladini (caution; Tactical Foul) 64
CHI -- Diego Chaves (caution; Reckless Tackle) 91+
LA -- Chris Birchall (caution; Reckless Tackle) 92+
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba (Diego Chaves 78), Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa (Orr Barouch 82), Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko (Bratislav Ristic 89), Cristian Nazarit, Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Baggio Husidic, Josip Mikulic, Michael Videira, Jon Conway.
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Bryan Jordan, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, David Beckham, Paolo Cardozo (Miguel Lopez 67), Juninho, Chris Birchall (Michael Stephens 89), Juan Pablo Angel (Adam Cristman 77), Landon Donovan.
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Davies, Hector Jimenez, Jovan Kirovski, Brian Perk.
Referee: David Gantar
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli; Philippe Briere
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees