By: Todd Kurpel
The Philadelphia Union’s early offensive struggles continued this past Saturday in a match with the Los Angeles Galaxy, as they failed to score in a 1-0 loss. The loss was the Union’s first of the season, yet the team was only able to score a combined two goals in the previous two matches. The loss drops the Union’s record to 2-1-0 in the early part of the 2011 MLS season.
The Union fell behind midway through the first half when David Beckham located Leonardo alone in front of the goal in the 33rd minute. Lining up on a free kick approximately thirty yards out, Beckham struck the ball into the area in front of the goal, which Leonardo was able to easily head past Union goalie Faryd Mondragon. The goal was Leonardo’s first of the season, and the assist was Beckham’s second.
The Galaxy controlled possession for most of the first half, yet were unable to find a second goal. The team’s headed into the half with the score remaining 1-0.
The Galaxy almost connected for an early second half goal when Juninho had a clear look at goal and fired a shot that sailed directly into the crossbar in the 50th minute. The Union received a break a few minutes later when the Union’s Carlos Ruiz and the Galaxy’s Chris Birchall were entangled at midfield. The altercation was brief, but resulted in Ruiz receiving a yellow, while Birchall was sent off with a red by referee Paul Ward. The incident occurred in the 53rd giving the Union an opportunity to find the equalizer by getting the man advantage.
The Union were never able to get their offense going, however, and never got a clear shot on goal to test Galaxy goalie Donovan Ricketts, who was making his first game of the season. The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year missed the previous three games with an injury. The Union were able to step up pressure after gaining the man advantage, but the Galaxy were able to play strong defense to help Ricketts.
While there were not a lot of goals or scoring opportunities, the match did see its fair share of physical play as a number of players were booked with yellow cards. Beckham received a yellow card in the 89th minute for delaying a free kick in an effort to run more time off the clock. Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney was ejected in second half extra time when he got into an altercation with Chad Barrett after taking exception to a hard tackle in front of the Union’s goal.
The Union will have a short turnaround as they are to face DC United at Maryland Soccerplex on Wednesday, while the Galaxy will get the full week before they also travel to face DC United on Saturday, April 9th.