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Beckham's Corner Kick Goal Highlights LA Galaxy's 2-1 Victory

Jonathan Kendrick |
July 10, 2011 | 8:44 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer


Beckham's goal was the game winner for the Galaxy on Saturday night. (Calebrw via Wikimedia Commons)
Beckham's goal was the game winner for the Galaxy on Saturday night. (Calebrw via Wikimedia Commons)
For all the english on his bending shots and passes, it had been 16 years since David Beckham scored a goal directly from a corner kick.

Beckham did it Saturday night, following up his free kick assist on Landon Donovan's opener with one of soccer’s more unusual paths to goal in the Galaxy's 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

"That's what we pay him the big money for," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena joked.

The 36-year-old English international's 66th-minute winner extended Los Angeles' (10-2-9, 39 points) league-best unbeaten streak to 12 games and their lead atop MLS's Western Conference to five points over FC Dallas.

All this from a guy who received a cortisone shot and an epidural in the last two weeks to make a quick recovery from a slight spine fracture.

"He's a warrior," Donovan said about Beckham. "Since he's been here, he's played through a lot of tough injuries. He's playing through a lot of pain. I'm impressed."

The loss snapped an eight-match unbeaten streak for Chicago (2-5-12, 18 points).

Los Angeles came close to taking an early lead in the 2nd minute. Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter headed David Beckham's corner kick just wide of the near post and into the side netting, prompting premature goal celebrations from fans that thought Berhalter had scored.

Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko created back-to-back good opportunities for his team in the 13th minute. The Ghana native first got free down the left flank and cut a square pass across to teammate Marco Pappa, who hit a low shot from the top of the box that Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders dove to save.

Nyarko was back less than 30 seconds later, dribbling all the way to the edge of the Galaxy's six yard box, before Berhalter made a sliding tackle that sent the ball out of play for a corner kick.

Midfielder Chris Birchall put a left-footed shot wide in the 24th and Pappa responded with a long shot straight at Saunders in the 28th, in what developed into a back-and-forth first half.

Landon Donovan popped up in the attack near the end of the period, nearly beating Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson to a loose ball in the box in the 39th minute and firing a 44th-minute shot that defender Yamith Cuesta blocked.

Chicago had its best chance of the first half in the period's final minute, when defender Jalil Anibaba put an open header wide off of Daniel Paladini's corner kick.

The Fire made the brighter start to the second half, putting three shots on frame in the opening six minutes.

Saunders dove to tip Nyarko's 48th-minute header wide of the post and stopped long range efforts from Anibaba and forward Dominic Oduro in the 49th and 51st minutes.

The Galaxy, though, were the ones to open the game's scoring in the 58th minute. Beckham swung in a free kick to the far post and Donovan out-jumped his defender, heading the ball back across the goal mouth, over Johnson's head and into the net.

"I kind of just drifted to the far post," Donovan said. "There are not many guys I'm going to jump over, but I put myself in the right position and David hit a great ball."

The goal put Donovan in a tie with New York's Thierry Henry for the league lead with nine goals scored and the assist was Beckham's eighth, good for second place behind Houston's Brad Davis.

Chicago responded four minutes later with Nyarko playing the offensive orchestrator again. The 25-year-old chipped a cross in from the left that a charging Cristian Nazarit headed low past a diving Saunders in the 62nd minute for the first Fire goal.

"I think Nyarko's a handful," Arena said when asked about forward-turned-defender Bryan Jordan's defensive job on Nyarko throughout the match. "BJ's certainly not a very experienced player at that position but Nyarko's difficult for anyone to play against.”

The second half fireworks didn't stop there. Beckham sent a 66th-minute corner kick into the heavily congested area in front of goal and the ball went untouched into the back of Johnson's net.

"I saw the goalkeeper cheating a little bit, going out of the goal," Beckham said. "I knew if I put it in that area, it was going to get a touch off somebody or it was going to go straight in.

"So, lucky that it went straight in."

The Fire nearly responded in the 72nd minute, with Nyarko again causing problems for the Galaxy defense. He beat Jordan down the left flank and played a loss cross to a wide open Pappa, but the Guatemalan star put his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

The game came to a feisty end, with Birchall's stoppage time foul on Nyarko at the center of a heated discussion between the two benches. Nyarko broke free down the left flank and Birchall made a sliding tackle to prevent a breakaway, getting all legs and no ball. Fire forward Diego Chaves rushed at Birchall, gesturing wildly, and needed to be restrained by Beckham. Birchall received a yellow card for the tackle while Fire defender Josip Mikulic, on the bench at the time, was given a red. Birchall and Nyarko both left the game with injuries suffered on the play.

"Emotions flare a little bit," Arena said about the incident. "The tackle was fairly harmless to be honest with you."

Birchall added: "It wasn’t meant to be vicious…I probably came out the worst."

Chicago coach Frank Klopas disagreed. When asked if the tackle deserved a red card, Klopas responded, "In my opinion, 100 percent."

News and Notes

-- Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid announced Friday its roster for the team's three-game United States tour, which begins with Saturday's exhibition against the Galaxy at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The squad features Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka (pictured left), both former FIFA World Player of the Year winners, and five members of Spain's 2010 FIFA World Cup winning squad: goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defenders Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos and midfielder Xabi Alonso.

New signings Fabio Coentrão, Raphael Varane, Jose Maria Callejon and Nuri Sahin will be making their debuts for the club. The team arrives Monday and will train at UCLA as they prepare for the Spanish league season that begins next

month. The preseason tour also includes stops in San Diego to face Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara on July 21st and Philadelphia to play MLS's Philadelphia Union on the 24th.

-- Arena didn't seem too excited for the friendly with Real Madrid, saying that the game is one for fans and players to enjoy. Arena said the game will be a challenge, remarking that Real Madrid can "bring out 11 new players [at halftime] valued at $250 million and you don"t know what to do."

-- The Galaxy's injury list keeps growing, with forward Chad Barrett (knee sprain), midfielder Mike Magee (hamstring tightness) and defender Sean Franklin (hamstring strain) the newest additions to the sidelined. Arena said he expects Franklin and fellow defender A.J. DeLaGarza (head/face trauma) to return next week.

-- Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk's penalty kick stop on Fredy Montero in last week's game against Seattle earned him MLS Save of the Week honors. The 21-year-old was forced into the starting lineup with Donovan Ricketts injured and Saunders suspended, and responded by shutting out the Sounders. Perk's big save came in the 18th minute, when he guessed right and dove right to stop Montero's penalty.

-- The Galaxy collected new and gently-used soccer equipment from fans Saturday night to distribute to underserved areas, kicking off its Galaxy Drive Series. The Galaxy will also hold collection drives during games on August 6th (school supplies), September 17th (non-perishable food items) and October 1st (clothing and shoes).

-- Los Angeles returns to action on Wednesday for a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal matchup against the Seattle Sounders at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. Arena said he would evaluate the team's injury situation on Monday before deciding which players he'll take with him for the game.



Reach Jonathan by email. Follow him on Twitter, @jjkendrick.



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