On a pitch littered with international stars, Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry shone brightest as Los Angeles and New York battled to an entertaining 1-1 draw Saturday night at the Home Depot Center. The Red Bulls drew first blood in just the fourth minute when Henry rounded Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for the early finish.
Los Angeles stormed back though, and pressed several times in search of an equalizer. Juan Pablo Angel had a goal disallowed in the 25th minute on a very close offside call. Landon Donovan broke back for the home side in the 41st minute, rising high in the middle of the box to head in a David Beckham corner kick, unleashing a flurry of gold and blue confetti in the Home Depot Center. Donovan almost doubled his tally a minute later after rounding Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, but defender Tim Ream made an acrobatic sliding clearance to save a goal.
Smoke from the pre-game fireworks had barely cleared when a mis-hit clearance from A.J. De La Garza fell to Dane Richards on the right flank. Richards found Henry streaking into the box, and the French striker beat Ricketts to the ball and held off Sean Franklin for a fourth minute strike.
The Galaxy responded right away with more energy. Todd Dunivant unleashed a fantastic curling low cross that found Angel in front of goal, but he mis-hit it. The Red Bulls were very organized though, and threatened often with several quick counter attacks.
Angel appeared to level for the Galaxy in the 25th minute, when he headed a Donovan cross past Coundoul, but the goal was disallowed on a tight offsides call.
The Red Bulls stormed right back when Dwayne De Rosario fed Joel Lindpere, whose threatening low cross flashed across an open Galaxy goal and out. At the half-hour mark, Henry turned back the clock to his Arsenal days with a mesmeric run in which he juggled the ball six times at a full sprint, before being closed down by Omar Gonzalez.
Donovan got the equalizer for Los Angeles in the 41st minute, rising high to head in a David Beckham corner kick past Coundoul. Donovan exchanged words with Henry after the goal, before jumping into Beckham’s arms.
One minute later, Beckham found Donovan streaking down the middle ten yards from the Red Bulls penalty box. A great first touch from Donovan sprung him past Coundoul, and the Galaxy captain tapped the ball towards the open net. Tim Ream did not give up on the play however, and saved the Red Bulls with a spectacular clearance off the goal line.
Things then turned chippy. Henry earned his spurs in Europe, but it appeared he took them with him to America in the 44th and 46th minutes. First he arrived late on a challenge on Donovan, but escaped caution from referee Edvin Jurisevic. Henry clipped Beckham as he crossed two minutes later, with Beckham making the most of the contact.
After a first half defined by the frenzy of built up emotion and moments of class, controlled aggression characterized the second. A few nervy moments by the Red Bulls defense went unpunished by the Galaxy in the first five minutes of the second half.
The first real chance of the half came courtesy of the Galaxy in the 54th minute, when Angel’s flick of a David Beckham cross flew just wide of the top right corner. The chippiness from the first half reappeared a minute later, when New York striker Luke Rodgers bowled Donovan over from behind after the ball had left Donovan’s feet. The referee initially waved play on, but showed Rodgers yellow two minutes later after a conference with the fourth official.
In the 73rd minute, Chad Barrett crossed for Angel at the six yard line, but Angel’s header was saved by a diving Coundoul.
From then on, it was all Red Bulls as New York killed of the game by dominating possession. A slick layoff from Henry at the center circle found De Rosario streaking into Galaxy territory in the 75th. De Rosario dribbled for 40 yards, holding off Franklin and De La Garza to force a great save from Ricketts.
Juan Agudelo, who replaced Rodgers in the 72nd minute, went inches wide of Ricketts’s left post in the 78th minute with a wicked flick of his head from a Marquez cross. Richards’s low hard shot clanged off the far post of Ricketts’s goal in the 82nd.
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