CARSON, Calif.--The Los Angeles gave up a club record six goals to a rampant FC Dallas. Four in the second half after an equal first decided the game for the visitors.
Edson Buddle returned from injury to score for the Galaxy and rookie defender AJ DeLaGarza scored his first Major League Soccer goal, but it wasn't enough. Jeff Cunningham hit a brace and tortured Gregg Berhalter with his pace in a 6-3 win for the resurgent Hoops.
It was a rookie's day to shine as AJ DeLaGarza had a hand in two goals for the Galaxy.
LA had an early escape as Jeff Cunningham got in behind the Galaxy defense in the second minute of the match, beating defender Omar Gonzalez to a ball in the box. Cunningham's shot was wide, but it was an indication of Dallas' dangerous intentions.
Not five minutes later, Cunningham broke away again towards goal, and only a Gregg Berhalter takedown prevented and open shot on goal. Referee Hilario Grajeda pulled out the yellow card, perhaps judging that Berhalter had actually tried to poke away the ball, but it was a lenient view in favor of the Galaxy.
Perhpas Grajeda then decided to get tough on the home team, waving off a handball appeal when Jair Benitez's elbow prevented a cross into the Dallas box.
In the 8th minute, the Galaxy's David Beckham was indeed whistled for a handball when LA was trying to clear out a van den Bergh freekick. The ball was spotted only a feet from van den Bergh's first opportunity, just outside the Galaxy box, and he did not waste the second chance, firing a low shot through a slight gap in the Galaxy wall for his third goal of the year.
In the 19th minute, another controversial call went against the Galaxy. Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala came off his line to catch a long Galaxy pass. He was in the box when he made the catch, but his forward momentum carried him two steps over the line. However, the linesman judged that the ball itself hadn't crossed.
The connection between Landon Donovan and Beckham started to click in the 21st minute, when Donovan chested down a Beckham pass and half-scissored a volley that missed only by a few feet.
Yet it was Dallas who converted the next chance they had for a two-goal lead in the 26th minute. This time, Atiba Harris fired a cross to Cunningham, who brought the ball down well in the box and beat LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts with a low shot.
In the same minute of play, though, the Galaxy pulled a goal back through the scrappy play of DeLaGarza, who charged into the box to one-time a long pass that Sala blocked, but right into the path of his own defender, Benitez, who unwittingly knocked the ball into the net for an own-goal as the trio collided.
DeLaGarza came up limping after the play, but soldiered on.
The game turned chippy as David Ferriera and then Ugo Ihemelu saw yellow cards in quick succession for tackles as LA pushed for the equalizing goal.
It didn't come, however, until the 42nd minute. Jovan Kirovski latched onto a pass and fired a hard shot that Sala blocked right into the bath of De LaGarza, who had made the crucial trailing run and finished simply for his first MLS career goal.
DeLaGarza's effort was notable when the reason emerged for his absence in the second half. He has sustained a sprained knee in the player crash of the first Galaxy goal, and scored the equalizer playing through the injury. Tony Sanneh replaced him in defense.
Though they were the visiting team, Dallas came out strong in the second half. Perhaps coach Schellus Hyndman had read his team the riot act for giving up a two-goal lead.
For all that Dallas controlled the midfield well and set up chances, however, it was the individual creative play of Cunningham that helped Dallas obtain the lead again.The thirty-three-year-old was tormenting the Galaxy defenders with his pace and tricky dribbling moves.
It paid off in the 71st minute, when he twice beat thirty-six year old Berhalter with his cutbacks to get close to the Galaxy box, then sent in a perfect cross into the midst of a crowd of Galaxy players to Dax McCarty, who redirected the ball into the goal.
The wheels then began to come off for the Galaxy, who seemed dispirited by falling behind after the work to catch up. Dallas, meanwhile, were really finding their groove.
Their linkup play bested the Galaxy again in the 82nd minute, when Atiba Harris finished off a McCarty pass with a cracking header.
Two minutes later, Ferreira beat Berhalter with pace on a counterattack, threading his low shot past Ricketts.
The pain continued for the Galaxy after another couple of minutes, as Cunningham got his brace when he took a quick pass from the lively Brek Shea on another counterattack and finished from distance with a sizzling shot for the sixth goal.
The Galaxy got a slight consolation when Edson Buddle, newly-returned from injury, scored for LA in the 90th minute for the 3-6 final scoreline. The six goals allowed by the LA franchise was a historic record, as never before had the Galaxy given up so many in MLS action.
Andrea Canales, Goal.com
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