The Los Angeles Galaxy players were glad to claim the full points over the Fire to move closer to a playoff spot in MLS.
They had to work for the three points, however. The Fire did not lay down after a Landon Donovan goal put Los Angeles ahead. Chicago threatened until the final whistle.
"It was an even game and Chicago certainly put us on our heels in the last 10 minutes of the game," acknowledged Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
In fact, Arena seemed more relieved than excited at the close of the match, given that the Fire had dangerous set-piece chances late in the game.
"We had a few opportunities in the second half to get that second goal and to make life a little easier for us and to give ourselves a little bit of a cushion but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes and we weren't as sharp as we needed to be to finish them off," Arena said.
Though he didn't get on the scoresheet, Galaxy star David Beckham continued his excellent play of late.
Arena also praised his goalscorer, who lofted a chip over John Busch to score the game-winner. "The effort Landon showed at times in the second half was spectacular. Those are guys that are key players for us. There’s no question about it. When they’re focused and concentrated and working, without a doubt it makes a difference."
Beckham thought that despite the desperate defending of the Galaxy
in the final moments of the game to hold the result, the outcome
revealed some important things about the Los Angeles roster.
"When things happen the way they
did the last few minutes, it shows the character of the team and shows the
fitness of the team as well," Beckham pointed out.
He praised certain teammates in particular.
"Donovan (Ricketts) in goal saved us a few times, but that’s what he’s there for. He has a big frame and he has a lot of confidence and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him. With Landon (Donovan) up front, the pace he’s got, he’s always going to get in good positions. Tonight the one goal was enough."
Yet the English midfielder also pointed out that even with the goal
of the playoffs near at hand, the elimination games there to win the
championship would not be easy.
"It’s not over yet," said Beckham. "We’ve got to keep fighting, keep playing and we’ll see."
Yet the air in the locker room, regardless of what lay ahead in the future, was one of celebration.
"Getting the three points tonight meant a lot to the team," said young striker Bryan Jordan. "We're really excited and looking forward to more things."
Galaxy veteran Chris Klein started the match, though he has come off the bench recently and had the assist on Donovan's goal.
"It's important for us to build on that (win) and take this momentum to the end of the season," said Klein.
Even in celebrating a win, Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter was bit
self-deprecating, putting Arena's praise of his veteran leadership on
the backline into perspective.
"Someone who is 36 years old, who has been around for a while - I'm not on the field for my speed and for running by people, obviously," Behalter pointed out. "I am there to keep people organized."
Though frustrated that his players fell short in chasing the game,
Fire coach Denis Hamlett acknowledged the quality of the LA squad.
"You’ve got to give them credit because they are good at it," Hamlett allowed. "Landon, he played real well tonight just playing those loose seams underneath and just threatening to get behind, and I thought David was able to serve a few good balls to them, so they got going on that part of it, so it was real hard for us to deal with."
Andrea Canales, Goal.com
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