Adam Cristman scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season during a four-minute span in the first half to lead the New England Revolution to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Friday night at The Home Depot Center.
With the win, the Revolution (10-4-3, 33 pts.) solidified its spot atop the MLS and Eastern Conference standings heading into a month-long hiatus from league play to participate in SuperLiga. Meanwhile, the Western Conference leading Galaxy (6-6-3, 21 pts.) dropped its second consecutive game.
The first real chance of the match fell to New England in the ninth minute, as Kheli Dube's looping pass over the Galaxy backline sent Sainey Nyassi into the right side of the area. The 19-year-old Gambian steadied himself and sent a drive towards goal, but the shot hit L.A. goalkeeper Steve Cronin in the chest and bounced to safety.
The Revolution threatened again in the 26th minute, this time through Mauricio Castro. The Honduran midfielder struck a low, left-footed shot from 30 yards out which Cronin fumbled, but the ball squirted inches wide of the right post.
New England's pressure finally paid off in the 33rd minute, as Cristman scored his fifth goal of the season to establish a new career-high for the second-year forward. Shalrie Joseph's powerful header off Castro's corner kick was saved by Cronin, but the goalkeeper let the rebound roll towards the right post, where an unmarked Cristman poked in the rebound from two yards out.
Cristman wasted little time in scoring his second of the match, as he extended the Revolution's lead to 2-0 in the 37th minute. The chance was once again created from a corner kick, this time Steve Ralston delivering the cross from the right corner. Cristman rose above Abel Xavier to get his head on the ball, and sent a powerful shot into the far side netting. The tally was Cristman's sixth of the season, tying him for the team lead with Ralston, while the assist was Ralston's team-leading fourth of the year.
The Revs came inches from scoring a third with the last kick of the first half. Cristman was at the center of the action yet again, bursting into the right side of the box and setting up Castro with an empty net after drawing Cronin off his line. However, Castro's shot hit the right post, denying the 26-year-old his first MLS goal.
Los Angeles forward Landon Donovan - the leading scorer in MLS with 11 goals - was inserted into the game at halftime after originally being held out because of flu-like symptoms.
The Galaxy had two opportunities to cut the deficit in half early in the second stanza. First, David Beckham's 49th-minute full volley at the far post sliced wide, before Mike Randolph's 50th-minute shot from close range was blocked.
Cristman created another chance for the Revs in the 54th minute, once again setting up a teammate - this time Dube - with a pass across goal after pulling Cronin off his line. However, Dube failed to make solid contact with the ball and his shot never reached the target.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis was finally forced into his first save in the 58th minute, diving to his right to save Edson Buddle's shot from just inside the top of the area.
There was nothing Reis could do about Beckham's goal in the 66th minute, however, which brought the Galaxy to within 2-1. Donovan's pass across the box was headed high into the air by Joseph, and Beckham ran onto the dropping ball and unleashed a full volley from just inside the top of the area. The Englishman's shot was deflected by sliding Revs defender Jay Heaps, wrong-footing Reis and hitting the back of the net.
Buddle had a great chance to level the score in the 77th minute, but his shot from near the penalty spot crashed off the crossbar after Beckham had set him up with a right-wing cross.
The Galaxy brought on former 20-goal scorer Carlos Ruiz in the 84th minute in an effort to press for an equalizer, but the hosts failed to create any more dangerous scoring chances. The club finished with 14 total shots, but put just three of them on goal.
Reis finished with two saves to earn the victory, while Cronin stopped five shots in the losing effort.
New England will return to action on Tuesday, July 8, when the club will continue its U.S. Open Cup title defense by hosting a quarterfinal match against Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL-2) at Veterans Stadium in New Britain, Conn., at 7 p.m. The Revs will then be participating in SuperLiga throughout the month of July, before resuming their MLS regular-season schedule on Saturday, Aug. 9, when they will host the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium.
New England Revolution at Los Angeles Galaxy
July 4, 2008 - Carson, Calif. (The Home Depot Center)
NE - Adam Cristman (unassisted) 33
NE - Adam Cristman (Steve Ralston) 37
LA - David Beckham (unassisted) 66
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Chris Albright, Mauricio Castro, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Sainey Nyassi (Pat Phelan 70), Steve Ralston ©, Adam Cristman (Amaechi Igwe 79), Kheli Dube (Taylor Twellman 60)
Substitutes Not Used: Doug Warren (GK), Chris Tierney, Chase Hilgenbrinck, Kenny Mansally
STATS: Shots 11; Shots on Goal 7; Saves 2; Corner Kicks 8; Offsides 1; Fouls Committed 14
Los Angeles Galaxy: Steve Cronin (GK), Ante Jazic, Sean Franklin, Abel Xavier, Chris Klein, Mike Randolph, Joe Franchino (Carlos Ruiz 84), Alvaro Pires, David Beckham ©, Alan Gordon (Landon Donovan 46), Edson Buddle
Substitutes Not Used: Vito Higgins (GK), Greg Vanney, Troy Roberts, Josh Tudela, Ely Allen
STATS: Shots 14; Shots on Goal 3; Saves 5; Corner Kicks 0; Offsides 2; Fouls Committed 15
LA - Alvaro Pires (caution) 81
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell (SAR), Frank Anderson (JAR)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:55
Weather: Clear and 86 degrees
The match was the fifth all-time meeting between New England and Los Angeles on July 4, with all five occurring in Los Angeles ... the Revs improved to 2-1-2 in Independence Day showdowns with the Galaxy.
The win was the Revolution's 10th of the season and marks the earliest in the calendar year that the club has reached 10 wins in the post-shootout era (beginning in 2000) ... this season, the Revs earned their 10th victory on July 4, while the earliest they had previously won 10 games in the post-shootout era was in 2005, when their 10th win occurred on July 16 ... New England reached 10 wins in its 17th game both this season and in 2005.
New England is undefeated in its last eight regular-season meetings with Los Angeles (6-0-2) dating back to 2004 ... the Revs have now won the last five regular-season meetings.
Adam Cristman's two-goal effort was the second multi-goal game of his career ... his other two-goal game was on June 16, 2007, when he had a pair of goals in a 3-3 draw with Columbus at Gillette Stadium ... it was the second straight game in which the Revs have had a multi-goal scorer, as Steve Ralston had two in the 2-1 victory over Toronto last Saturday (June 28) ... prior to last Saturday, New England hadn't had a multi-goal scorer in the first 15 games of the season.
Taylor Twellman made his second consecutive substitute appearance after returning from an ankle injury last weekend against Toronto (June 28) ... it was Twellman's second appearance at The Home Depot Center this year, as his season debut occurred in Carson, Calif., when he entered at halftime and scored the game-winning goal at Chivas USA (May 11).
Matt Reis improved to 5-0-2 in seven matches against his former team ... Reis played four seasons with the Galaxy, making 39 appearances from 1998-2002.
Defender Chris Albright started at right back upon his return to Los Angeles, where he spent the last six season playing for the Galaxy ... Albright was traded to the Revolution in exchange for allocation money on Jan. 18, 2008, the day of the MLS SuperDraft.
Former Revolution captain Joe Franchino started in the center of the Galaxy's midfield, marking his first appearance against his former club since being traded to L.A. on April 18, 2008, for a second-round selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft ... Franchino played eight seasons with the Revolution from 2000-08, accumulating 210 appearances and 185 starts.
Right midfielder Sainey Nyassi was replaced in the 70th minute by defensive midfielder Pat Phelan, switching Steve Ralston to the right wing and pushing Shalrie Joseph into an attacking midfield position.
Defender Amaechi Igwe replaced forward Adam Cristman in the 79th minute as the Revs switched to a four-back alignment while holding on to a one-goal lead.
The match was New England's last MLS game until Aug. 9 ... the Revs will host Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL-2) in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match on July 8 at Veterans Stadium in New Britain, Conn., while they'll play three group games in SuperLiga from July 13-20 ... the possibility of two more matches in late July and early August exists if the Revolution advances from its SuperLiga group.