Galaxy third-string goalkeeper comes up huge as the Galaxy move to 4-0-5 at home and extend its unbeaten streak to 11 matches.Sometimes you just have to hang on.
Third-string goalkeeper Brian Perk became just the second goalkeeper in MLS history to make his first save on a penalty kick when he denied Seattle striker Fredy Montero from the penalty spot in the first half, and the Los Angeles Galaxy held on for a 0-0 draw in an uneven game at the Home Depot Center on the Fourth of July.
The Sounders ended a five-game losing streak against the Galaxy, but struggled to capitalize against a weakened Galaxy side that also lost both starting central defenders to injury during the game.
Perk showed both his inexperience and his pedigree as a United States youth international when he denied Montero’s penalty kick in the 17th minute. A bad clearance from Perk went straight to Seattle, with Roger Levesque finding Montero in front of goal. Montero’s resulting bicycle kick hit Omar Gonzalez in the hand, and referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the penalty spot. Perk then robbed Montero with a hard dive to the right.
“I basically had to save the PK after giving it to them,” Perk said. “I thought he’d show me one way and go the other, and that’s what he did. Luckily I guessed the right way.”
“I decided to go that side on that post, and it was a little short and he dove for it and he got it,” Montero said when asked about the saved penalty kick. “That’s the end of the story.”
The saved penalty kick was also Perk’s first MLS save, as he became just the second MLS goalkeeper to achieve that feat, after Matt Napolean pulled it off in August 1998. Perk was handed his debut after starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was injured and his backup, Josh Saunders, suspended for a red card last week at San Jose. Perk said the enormity of the moment did not sink in until just before the opening whistle.
“When the national anthem [played], on the fourth of July, being an American that’s something special,” Perk said. “So as soon as I was going out, I knew this was a big game, my first professional game. It’s what we all aspire to do, so it was very pleasing.”
Aside from the saved penalty kick, the rest of the first half featured disjointed play, as Landon Donovan struggled to get involved in his return to MLS action following Gold Cup duty. Galaxy defender A.J. De La Garza went out in the 26th minute with an apparent concussion following a high kick to the head from Montero.
In the second half, the Galaxy came out with renewed vigor as Donovan found more of the ball. A lofted ball from Todd Dunivant in the 49th minute found Donovan all alone behind the Seattle defense with only Kasey Keller to beat, but his soft header was easily saved by the Seattle ‘keeper.
In the 68th, the Galaxy had their best chance of the match when Donovan found Juan Pablo Angel at the edge of the box on a counterattack. Angel cut back, then ripped a low shot that Keller got fingertips on to deflect off his far post.
In the 80th minute, the Galaxy lost Omar Gonzalez to a hip injury suffered in an aerial challenge, forcing the team to shift Sean Franklin to central defense. Seattle almost grabbed all three points in stoppage time when a Tyson Wahl free kick sailed dangerously across the face of the Galaxy goal to Erik Friberg, but Friberg’s header was deflected out.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was clearly pleased to escape with a point after losing both starting central defenders and sporting an untested goalkeeper.
“Maybe the best chance from the run of play would have been Angel, but the best chance in the game was the penalty kick,” Arena said with a smile.
It was a mixed bag for Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid, who, despite not taking advantage of a weakened Galaxy side, saw his team end a five-game losing streak to Los Angeles.”
“You could always make a goalkeeper work more,” Schmid said. “I think what we’ve shown is our ability to play competitive soccer with [Los Angeles]…but obviously we’ve struggled scoring goals against them and we have to do a better job.”
David Beckham garnered a 20-minute cameo in the second half after three weeks out with a stress fracture to his spine. Beckham said he had not expected to play, but that his back had responded well to treatment.”
“The epidural and cortisone injections last week seemed to react well and took the pain away,” Beckham said. “Obviously the fracture’s still there, but the pain’s died down a bit.”
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