By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – Not many players can score from corner kicks. However not many players are David Beckham. The veteran England midfielder scored the decider in LA’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire (2-5-12), when he netted an improbably angled goal from a corner kick in the 66th minute.
“Not sure if I’ve scored one since I was playing Sunday league football as a kid,” said Beckham. “I saw a little bit of a gap and I knew that if I put it in an area it’s either gonna get a touch off somebody or it’s gonna go straight in. Luckily it went straight in.”
Despite carrying a back injury that nearly excluded him from the lineup, Beckham put on an impactful performance and was involved in the Galaxy’s opening goal when he set up Landon Donovan on another set piece. Donovan’s goal gave the Galaxy an initial lead in the 58th minute before Cristian Nazarit headed home an equalizer in the 62nd.
The Galaxy (10-2-9) came out strong and Gregg Berhalter gave the visitors a scare in the 2nd minute when he connected with a header on a Beckham set piece, driving the ball into the side netting.
The Fire had an early chance themselves when Patrick Nyarko danced through several defenders and passed to Marco Pappa who managed a shot from the edge of the 18. However Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders was alert to the danger and stopped the shot.
As the half progressed, the Galaxy began to move the ball more fluently. At times their play displayed flashes of the kind of one-touch, flowing football more commonly associated with European leagues.
“To be honest we knew that if we put three or four passes together we was gonna create chances and I think every time we did that in the first half we did create a chance,” said Beckham.
The Galaxy might have opened the scoring in the 32nd, when Beckham played in a long ball to Juan Pablo Angel. However the striker failed to line up a shot and the chance went begging.
The Fire’s best chance to score in the first half came in the 45th minute when they were awarded a corner. The ball was played into the area for Yamith Cuesta who connected with a header that beat Saunders but went wide of the near post.
The Galaxy finally opened the scoring early in the second half when they were awarded a free kick from the right corner. Beckham lofted the ball in for Donovan who connected with a header that found the back of the net to make it 1-0 Galaxy in the 58th.
“That one I kind of just drifted to the far post. I kind of like to see the ball like that and attack it,” said Donovan. “There’s not many guys I’m gonna jump over and things like that but I put myself in the right position and David hit a great ball.”
Three minutes later defender Bryan Jordan lined up another shot for Angel. This time the striker was able to catch the ball on the volley. However the former Aston Villa man failed to get power behind his shot and Fire keeper Sean Johnson made an easy save. Throughout the match, Angel looked a step off his game, as he frequently has this season. Later he would be subbed off for Adam Cristman.
The Chicago equalizer came in the 62nd minute when Patrick Nyarko played a high ball in for Cristian Nazarit who blasted home a header that slotted in between a diving Saunders and the far post, drawing the score level at 1-1.
But the parity would be short-lived. Three minutes later the Galaxy won a corner. Beckham again stepped up and delivered a ball in that took a bounce off the turf before curling in improbably at the far post to make it 2-1 Galaxy in the 65th.
The Fire’s best chance to equalize came ten minutes later when Nyarko broke down the flank and crossed the ball in for Marco Pappa who was lurking in the box. But the midfielder blasted his close-range effort over the crossbar.
As the match ticked into stoppage time, things boiled over on the pitch. A bad tackle on Nyarko by Birchall lead to a confrontation that involved coaching staff, referees and players. Birchall was shown yellow, the Fire’s Josip Mikulic was ejected from the bench and Nyarko was thankfully able to walk off the pitch.
Moments later the final whistle was blown with the Galaxy emerging as 2-1 winners. The LA side have now extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games and consolidated their position at the top of the Western Conference standings, putting a five-point cushion between themselves and second place Dallas.
With a U.S. Open Cup game against Seattle on Wednesday and upcoming friendlies against Real Madrid and Manchester City, the Galaxy have a busy schedule ahead of their next league outing against the Columbus Crew on July 20th.