So exactly what can we expect tonight? Which Beckham will show up, and perhaps more importantly, which Donovan? They blab in the media (well, tellingly, only Becks did) about how they've patched up their differences, but the only way to know for sure is by examining the drivel put forth on the pitch.
Mercifully for the Galaxy, they get to ease Becks back into the league with a soft fixture against one of the worst teams in the league. Seriously, the Red Bulls have managed 2 wins, 13 defeats and 4 draws this season. And to think the RBNY got this bad the old-fashioned way, with a colossally hilarious string of poor personnel decisions, instead of overpaying one washed-up marquee name whose salary then crippled the franchise!
Wait... does Juan Pablo Angel count?
But I digress. The song above may or may not be a reasonable glimpse inside the mind of Los Angeles' two tortured souls, both figuring out a way to make the next 3 months tolerable. A win would make for a happy start.
15 mins to kickoff: Seriously, this is going to be awesome. FSC is running interviews with Beckham and Wahl in the pregame. Personally, I can't listen to this stuff anymore right now, even though I've been blogging about the right-sided midfielder all frickin' weekend.
10 mins to kickoff: And Beckham is full of shit. He knew this project wouldn't take a year or two years. He's in it for the long haul. Just fucking leave already!
Footage of the Columbus Crew visiting Barack Obama. Wonderful.
@Spectator - the Pele Scale! We should enlighten the masses as to our ingenious invention.
5 mins to kickoff: Grant Wahl pitchside for an interview! He reckons US soccer needs a good controversy, so why not something he started with the league's most iconic, misunderstood player? And no, he's not surprised that Donovan spoke as much as he did. So glad he did, too.
Predictions for the game? Score? Scorers? What will Beckham do? Donovan?
3 mins to kickoff: The Red Bulls will assume the position shortly. They are an awful, awful team. I'm thinking LA will win big, maybe 3-0 or so, and their victory will act as one of many impending false dawns for this team. OH GOD SHUT UP MAX BRETOS. My filter is on the fritz. For anyone interested, it's not so much a TV filter but an icepick lodged in my right ear, perforating the drum and making Bretos only half-intelligible amid the bleeding and pain.
2 mins to kickoff: That said, the other commentator noted that LA haven't won in "New York" since 2000. Maybe I should revise my prediction. Kickoff! Next!
NEW YORK (4-4-2): Cepero - Pacheco, Sassano, Petke, Hall - Rojas, Celades, Stammler, Zimmerman - Kandji, Angel.
Subs: Wolyniec, Krupnik, Smith, Richards, Ubiparipovic.
LOS ANGELES (4-1-3-2): Ricketts - Dunivant, Berhalter, Gonzalez, Delagarza - Miglioranzi - Donovan, Lewis, Beckham - Eskandarian, Buddle.
Subs: Sanneh, Klein, Magee, Gordon, Kirovski.
Nice to see Becks and Landy split on separate wings, presumably to keep them as far as possible from one another lest they gripe and grumble about one another within earshot of one another.
Let us do this! Peeeeeeeeep!
LA Galaxy in blue, NY Red Bulls in white.
1 min: The "grass" is wet, as LA are first to experience its slipperiness. Sassano had slipped, allowing the ball to trickle towards Eskandarian, but cover was there to save the day.
Early, early pressure down at RBNY's end. Big surprise! At least the atmosphere is feisty and loud.
3 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and a slice of fried goal from Alecko Eskandarian!!! A fairly innocuous ball forward finds the striker, he nods it ahead into space, and nary a Red Bull has the wings to shut him down. And so, from 25 yards with Luke Sassano impersonating a traffic cone, Eskandarian has a crack on the volley and it rip-roars past Danny Cepero.Top corner shot. Hilarious start for the Red Bulls. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 1
The crowd remains unbowed despite the early dagger blow to the chest. LA are still setting the tempo in midfield, but the Red Bulls get something going down the right with Zimmerman and Hall, but Hall's cross floats kindly into Ricketts' grasp.
7 mins: I spoke too soon! RBNY make some progress down the right, Angel nips behind his marker and fires a shot from a narrow angle that Ricketts shins out for a corner. Good effort from Juan Pablo.
What's hilarious early (besides the RBNY concept of "man-marking") is the state of the pitch. No-one can remain on their feet! Players slipping left and right! I thought this is why Adi Dassler did what he did in the 1950s with removable studs.
9 mins: Awful defending by RBNY, tumbling and falling to keep out a string of Galaxy crosses into the box. Eventually they clear to Beckham 20 yards out, and his shot is easily blocked.
OUCH. Berhalter gets a yellow for completely decimating Kandji. The defender's lucky he got there just early enough to avoid a red.
11 mins: Angel's nothing if not persistent. He leaps high in the box and nods for goal from the edge of the box. Woulda snuck under the bar but Ricketts was ready for it.
Much better from RBNY, as Kandji's passing is wonderfully accurate. The move breaks down on the right as Zimmerman gets crowded out, and once the ball comes back to the left again, Rojas attempts his own Eskandarian special from fully 40 yards but Ricketts catches it on the line.
13 mins: This sodden, skid-inducing excuse for a pitch is causing all sorts of sloppiness. If it's not the ball bouncing strangely, it's the Keystone Kops-esque hilarity of everyone falling over themselves.
Still, RBNY amp up the pressure from a throw-in. Rojas pushes it in from the left, it's pinged out to Angel, and he slips Zimmerman free on the right. His cross misses the man in the middle, and Rojas' 2nd cross is snatched from the sky by Ricketts.
16 mins: Donovan and Beckham have linked up nicely a couple of times thus far. Oh, the healing power of winning. Plenty of room for both sides down the flanks as well, but so far, Donovan's been everywhere. Tracking back down the right, galloping down the left, popping up in the middle... you name it, he's done it.
17 mins: Hall pummels a cross into the stands after working hard to get clear down the right wing. Arena will be encouraged by his workrate, but dismayed by his Pennant-esque inability to cross the ball.
20 mins: This Kandji fellow is wreaking havoc up top. In fact, he only needs to stand still and trap the ball while defenders foul him left and right, and it's Berhalter again, tumbling into his back for no discernible reason. Needs to be careful after that early yellow... free-kick RBNY, 20+ yards out.
... and Rojas almost knocks it in! His cheeky chip over the wall takes a deflection and loops agonizingly this wide of the post with Ricketts, a former cricketer (thanks for that, BRETOS), beaten. Then, RBNY resumes normal service in wasting their corner kick.
24 mins: Great chance to double their lead! Donovan wins a footrace down the right wing and turns in a dangerous cross. With Buddle threatening, Mike Petke sticks out a leg and touches it behind for a corner. Great defending. LA's corner amounts to nothing.
26 mins: Beckham's been quiet. In fact, I don't even know where he is on the pitch as Donovan appears to be the new right winger. Oh wait, a free kick for LA some 40 yards out, there's Beckham behind the ball. Phew. He swerves one in but it's headed clear.
28 mins: No Bretos, Beckham is not dangerous from a free-kick 45 yards out and right against the touchline. Eskandarian gets a yellow for fouling someone or something.
30 mins: Take a breath, Red Bulls fans. The home team still knows how much you love them without the continual screaming.
Chance for LA! Eskandarian beats the offside trap but breaks his run so Donovan can sprint onto it. His cross is long to Lewis, and his shot is blocked.
31 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and the Red Bulls just don't learn, do they? Beckham swings in a corner, it's cleared as far as Landon Donovan some 20 yards out, and it's his turn to Eskandarian the living daylights out of the ball, catching it sublimely on the volley and snorting it past an absolutely helpless Danny Cepero. He was grabbing nothing but the night sky. Gorgeous goal, high-fives all round for LA, and I think I'll retract my revised prediction and stick with the original 3-0 scoreline. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 2
32 mins: I feel bad for Angel. He is a man without a team, really. Under pressure of a double-team at the edge of the box, all he can do is shoot weakly at Ricketts due to the lack of support in the middle.
34 mins: Hard foul in the midfield, and Becks has a free-kick to bend from 25 yards out...
... but it takes a deflection off Mo Kandji and dies mid-air. LA press again down the left wing this time, winning another corner. Beckham waltzes over to the RBNY section to take. Pacheco heads it clear, and Kandji is drowned out by a double-team in midfield. No love for RBNY currently, illustrated by Rojas letting a simple pass bobble up off his shin and out for an LA Galaxy throw. Poor stuff.
36 mins: The Red Bulls are just awful. Shockingly awful. Can they just delete the team and start over again? Bring back the Metrostars! Tony Meola!
37 mins: Coach Osorio should just put 6 at the back in order to relieve some embarrassment of his statues in midfield. Beckham comes inside and plays a swanky no-look pass to Eskandarian, who jogs some 30 yards before shooting and shaving some metal off the top of the crossbar with his effort. Can anyone on that Red Bull squad close a man down? Some positively USA v. Italy defending there. Donovan must be having deja vu.
Then, mild excitement at the other end as Kandji just misses out on a low cross by Hall from the right. And Bretos needs to learn to control himself because WE CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DESCRIBE IF YOU ARE YELLING INTO THE MICROPHONE THAT YOU'RE HOLDING LESS THAN AN INCH FROM YOUR MOUTH.
40 mins: Donovan's toying with RBNY down the right, eluding a couple of challenges before Petke lowers the boom and nicks possession. Free-kick anyways on the right side. Duh Becks to take, but it's headed away by Sassano.
42 mins: Long-distance shooting for all! All of it rubbish, too. Kandji is trying to spark something for the home side, but he's one man against eleven.
AND A SERIES OF STUNNING SAVES BY RICKETTS! How did Rojas not bury that rebound? Ricketts dives to his right to keep out the initial shot by I-forget-who, but the danger lurks as Rojas is first to the loose ball and somehow rifles his shot right at Ricketts' legs. The goalie's block was enough to turn it around the post. If he'd have passed it a foot to his right, Angel would have had an open goal. When things aren't going your way, they're really not going your way.
44 mins: Sorry, had a Bretos moment there. My apologies. To tone down the hyperbole, Ricketts made two wonderful saves in quick succession.
GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL from absolutely nothing! And my score prediction from the pregame looks positively prescient! Landon Donovan gets the ball on the right, loops it across the edge of the box to a wide-open Eddie Lewis on the left side, and he volleys low, beating Cepero with the awkward bounce. Simply easy stuff for the Galaxy, and it's all coming from Donovan, really. Becks must feel great, both to be winning but also to be playing second fiddle for the night. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 3
HALF TIME: NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 3
Just about everything going the Hollywood way so far. The Galaxy looked relatively untroubled at the back, though the Red Bulls should have scored late on via Rojas. Beckham and Donovan are so gonna hug in the dressing room, and it's the mouthy American leading the charge on the pitch.
Now to go draw the winner of that Grant Wahl book a few people here and there have been talking about! Back shortly!
Drum Roll..... The winner of a copy of The Beckham Experiment as chosen at random is.... Kopper! Email us at the address so we can match you up with your prize. Sorry Goat. We will have another competition soon-ish, with more books to give away!
Re: this game... full-time can't come soon enough.
And we're back!
This is really the first time this season the LA Galaxy scored more than two goals in a game? Amazing.
46 mins: Buddle gets bundled over by Hall, giving Beckham a free-kick 20-odd yards out. He curls it into the box, it bobbles around a bit, it's knocked over for a corner.
Becks pumps it to the far post, and Donovan's wide open. Brimming with confidence, he cracks a volley but it's always spinning wide.
49 mins: Angel wins a free kick in typical Angel, hustle/bustle style. Kandji heads for goal from the cross, but it's never threatening Ricketts.
50 mins: The color commentator hints that comebacks are possible from 3-0 down, and he namechecks Liverpool v. Milan in 2004/05. Then he has the sense to correct himself, saying that the NY Red Bulls are not exactly Liverpool.
Corners corners corners for the Red Bulls, but nothing doing.
52 mins: Another free-kick for LA in the midfield, an area they've absolutely dominated. Oh, and I missed a wicked volley from Rojas a few minutes ago that gave Ricketts a scare. Aside from that shot, Rojas has been crap today. Same for Delagarza, Zimmerman and Petke/Stammler.
Seeing a banner on the sideline reminded me: how on earth did the Red Bulls make the MLS Cup final last year?
54 mins: Anything else on TV right now?
As much as it pains me to say, Donovan's been superb tonight. Energetic, always looking to get involved, never afraid to track back, and dangerous moving forward. He's the USA's Rooney, who in turn is the English Dirk Kuyt, much like Ji-Sung Park is the South Korean Kuyt. Conversely, Beckham's been quiet and subdued but has done his part when asked. As I thought, he's been good from the dead ball but very little else. Not mailing it in already, surely.
@The Fan's Attic -- sadly, not really if I remember correctly. People came out to witness the circus, and have done so with little vitriol. The odd smattering of boos and hisses when he's over in their section to take corners, but that's about it.
I do rate Mo Kandji though. Good workrate, decent enough trickery in possession, and fast. Would do well in the Colaship. Menacing not just because of his stature, but because he can play the ball well.
59 mins: The game is lulling, but you wouldn't know it from the crowd who are still in full song. USL liveblog tomorrow night. Anyone interested?
@The NY Kid -- no clue. I'm assuming he'd cry off anyway.
Angel wins another corner for RBNY, it's wasted, but then a lovely deep cross from the left lands on Celades' head, but he can only guide it right into Ricketts' stomach. Good chance, that.
@The NY Kid -- careful, people will think you're weird for answering your own question there.
62 mins: Lovely link-up play by Donovan and Eskandarian, but the final pass isn't there and RBNY clear.
Sub for the Red Bulls: Celades off, Dane Richards on.
64 mins: Corner for LA as Buddle bedazzles Petke before the defender regains awareness and toe-pokes it away. Eddie Lewis whips the inswinger into the crowd, but Donovan pushes with too much gusto and concedes a free-kick.
66 mins: Angel is flustered again, as his hard work and industry is squandered by a team-mate. It's sub Dane Richards' turn to disappoint, straying offside to receive Angel's pass following a lovely spin off his marker.
68 mins: The Galaxy are content to let RBNY pass it from side to side without really moving forward or threatening. The Galaxy counter with Donovan (he's everywhere!), who releases Buddle on the right side of the box. His thunderous shot is blocked by Cepero (I'm surprised it didn't kill him, unless the balls are a bit flat and thus making more noise than they should) for a corner, and Buddle can't get on the end of Klein's deep cross.
Sub for LA: Beckham off, Birchall on. Mixture of boos and cheers, few drinks containers hurled in his direction as he trots off, clapping and smiling all the way. He then salutes the crowd from the bench. Always playing the PR game. Always looking for photo ops. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced Beckham is just some soccer-playing Manchurian Candidate.
71 mins: Sub for NY: Zimmerman off, Ubiparipovic on.
An LA counter gives Eskandarian a great shooting chance, but it's right at Cepero. Lovely one-touch soccer by the Galaxy moving forward. Before that, Ricketts came a mile off his line for some reason but is beaten to the ball by Richards, who twists and turns but can't shoot through all the bodies.
Another sub for LA: Eskandarian off, Magee on.
75 mins: RBNY again shoot themselves in the foot, ruining some great positive build-up by wandering offside. Lazy. I was just about to note how they have been a little unlucky with this scoreline having created some golden scoring chances. Then again, they also defend about as well as the French, so I can't show too much pity.
Angel tries to get a good position on a cross from the right, but he's swarmed by three Galaxy defenders. The guy gets no help whatsoever.
78 mins: Bretos allows himself to indulge in some gooey, dreamy-eyed fantasies about what might happen if the Galaxy win all of MLS and every MLS anything ever, and whether it'd be enough to convince Beckham to stay. Short Answer: No. England won't pick him from all the way over here.
Sub for RBNY: Kandji off, Wolyniec on.
83 mins: Bretos is talking about Argentine soccer. Yet another league, MLS included, that Bretos knows nothing about. He just likes to roll his 'r's when pronouncing all those team names. Douche.
84 mins: The live-action equivalent of this at the moment:
Spoke too soon! Wolyniec taps it in with Ricketts beaten, but the ref calls it back for a handball by Gonzalez and demands RBNY take a penalty instead! Let's hope they miss! It'd be hilarious!
87 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and a rare smile for Juan Pablo Angel tonight. He sends Ricketts the wrong way on the penalty. And I'm thoroughly pissed that my score prediction is now incorrect. NY Red Bulls 1, LA Galaxy 3
89 mins: As you were, folks. It's been a rather quiet second half, which was to be expected. The dream return for Beckham, because people tend to gloss over the backstabbing, doublespeak and general lack of commitment when the team is winning.
90 mins + 1: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR THE RED BULLS! BUT ANGEL MISSES IT! Gonzalez commits another handball in the box, but Angel rushes his take and Ricketts gets enough on it to kiss it off the post and back into his arms. Absolutely hilarious way to end this game.
FULL TIME: NY Red Bulls 1, LA Galaxy 3
Wonderful stuff for LA, who were aided by a monstrous effort from Donovan, and some sharp counter-attacking, in their win. Becks and Donovan share a split-second loose embrace after the whistle, and maybe it'll be all smiles at the Home Depot Center from now on.