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 advance to host Sunday’s Western Conference Championship against Real Salt Lake.
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 pregame 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. Stéphane 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. The English midfielder 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 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.
NY -- Luke Rodgers 1 (Thierry Henry 1) 4
LA -- Mike Magee 2 (David Beckham 2) 42
LA -- Landon Donovan 1 (penalty kick) 75
NY -- Luke Rodgers (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 5
LA -- Landon Donovan (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 46+
NY -- Thierry Henry (caution; Reckless Tackle) 61
NY -- Jan Gunnar Solli (caution; Tactical Foul) 81
New York Red Bulls -- Frank Rost, Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Dax McCarty (Juan Agudelo 64), Teemu Tainio (Stephane Auvray 16), Joel Lindpere (Mehdi Ballouchy 87), Luke Rodgers, Thierry Henry.
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Kassel, Carlos Mendes, Bouna Coundoul.
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 79), Chris Birchall, Mike Magee, Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman 81), Robbie Keane (Paolo Cardozo 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Dasan Robinson, Donovan Ricketts.
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Paul Scott
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 63 degrees