Union Stun Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — David Beckham and Frank Lampard watched the Los Angeles Galaxy together Wednesday night from a suite at Home Depot Center, and the English superstars couldn’t have been pleased when the Philadelphia Union stole the spotlight.
Michael Farfan scored the tiebreaking goal in the fifth minute of injury time on a beautiful pass from Lionard Pajoy, and the Union stunned the Beckham-less Galaxy in a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
While Beckham served a one-game suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards, he used his free time to entertain Lampard. The longtime Chelsea midfielder has been targeted by the Galaxy with an eight-figure contract offer to join Beckham, according to reports in the British media.
The defending MLS champion Galaxy (6-10-2) seem to be increasingly in need of a shakeup after the latest surprising defeat in a season full of disappointment for a talented club that just can’t get going.
“It’s frustrating, no doubt about it,” Landon Donovan said. “It’s hard to be upset, because almost everyone played pretty well … but you don’t score, you make a mistake, and you’re on the bad end of another result.”
Nobody with the Galaxy had anything to say about the presence of Lampard, a rumored target for the club since last winter while Los Angeles waited for Beckham’s decision to re-sign. If the Galaxy signed Lampard, they would have to clear a spot by moving one of their three designated players: Beckham, Donovan or Robbie Keane, the Irish striker who has four goals in 12 games this season.
Chad Barrett tied it for the Galaxy with his first goal of the season in the 73rd minute, but Los Angeles made its final defensive mistake against Pajoy, whose slick back-heel pass set up the winner by Farfan, a San Diego native. Jack McInerney scored in first-half injury time for the Union (4-9-2), who won for just the second time in their last nine MLS matches.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but to get three points against a team like the Galaxy is huge,” McInerney said. “We’ve been playing well for a while now, and it’s great to get that result in a game like this.”
Philadelphia also recorded its first victory over the Galaxy in the 3-year-old franchise’s history.
“We didn’t play our best, but for the guys in our locker room to fight as hard as they fought and really make plays, that’s fantastic,” Philadelphia coach John Hackworth said. “These kinds of games can define a team.”
The defending champion Galaxy had far more good scoring chances and thoroughly dominated the first half, yet Farfan set up McInerney’s first-half goal before scoring the winner deep into injury time. Farfan’s run through the Galaxy’s defense for the winner silenced a large Los Angeles holiday crowd.
“For Michael, the work he did the whole game, he was Superman,” Hackworth said. “And then to be able to have that late finish was amazing.”
While Beckham watched with Lampard, Omar Gonzalez made his season debut for Los Angeles. Last season’s MLS defender of the year played the first half in his return from a torn knee ligament.
“I was pretty nervous the whole day, but once the ref blew the whistle, I was ready to go,” Gonzalez said. “Even though it’s my first game back, it’s unacceptable to give up a goal that late (in the first half).”
Los Angeles largely dominated the first half with multiple chances on goal, while Philadelphia rarely got the ball into the Galaxy’s end. But the Union went ahead early in injury time when Farfan got the ball in front for McInerney, who gracefully flicked it backward into the far corner for his third goal of the season.
McInerney’s goal came on the Union’s only shot on target of the first half.
The Galaxy finally evened it on a sequence set up by Donovan, who created a mismatch that led to a series of passes in front. Todd Dunivant and Keane set up Barrett, who scored from point-blank range.
Just under six months after Gonzalez tore a ligament in his left knee while training with FC Nuremberg in the Bundesliga, the 23-year-old rising star was back in the Galaxy’s starting lineup. Los Angeles was MLS’ most formidable defensive team during its 2011 championship run, and Gonzalez played a major role in bottling up opponents’ best scorers.