Galaxy vs. the Red Bulls

August, 18, 2007
08/18/07
8:56
AM ET
With the news that David Beckham will most definitely play against the Red Bulls tonight at Giants Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET), and even possibly start -- I'll be heading down to the Meadowlands later this afternoon, where I'll be blogging a play-by-play for this evening's game.

Cue another round of inane posts by soccer haters trying to convince soccer fans they're wasting their time watching the sport. For the rest of us, it'll be interesting to see how Beckham follows up his performance against D.C. midweek -- especially given the fact that's he playing on artificial turf which he dislikes immensely. Let's hope he doesn't get injured or re-aggravate his ankle. See you all later today.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I'm at Giants Stadium watching the game now, but there are network issues that will keep me from blogging live tonight.

Update: My connection has been restored with the wonders of ESPN remote access support so here we go:

This matchup is intriguing since the Red Bulls have the best set of strikers in MLS, whereas the Galaxy have arguably the worst (although we'll exempt Landon Donovan and classify him as an attacking midfielder for argument's sake).

Play-by-play:

2 mins -- We're off, I apologize for the slow start but I literally just got online.

3 mins -- Altidore with a nifty move to beat Ty Harden who can only drag him down, giving the Red Bulls a free kick in a dangerous spot. Juan Pablo Angel eyes the ball. Harden is carded.

4 mins -- GOAL. Red Bull 1-0. Bend it like Angel. Juan Pablo shows the fans that Beckham's not the only one who can score from range. To be honest though, Joe Cannon should have saved that.

5 mins -- Beckham's first touch. It's a corner from the nearside flag that is cleared out. He'll get another chance from the other end.

6 mins -- GOAL. Galaxy. 1-1. Beckham's first MLS assist, an in-swinging cross and Carlos Pavon (yes you read that right), headed it in. He's temporarily alleviated himself of the "worst signing Lalas has made yet" tag -- Pavon that is, not Becks.

8 mins -- GOAL. Galaxy 2-1. Beckham with another assist from a free kick. This is unreal stuff. He crossed it to the far post and Carlos Pavon snuck in behind some comedy marking and headed it in. This is twilight zone stuff right now.

9 mins -- A scuffle breaks out on the field, Beckham's in the thick of it -- he's objecting to a sliding tackle by Dave van den Bergh. Joe Vide shoves Beckham, presumably for being too good-looking, and the Galaxy spring to his defense. I guess Vide thinks playing the enforcer role NHL-style will stop the assist train express that is Beckham.

12 mins -- Landon Donovan with a nice weaving run and a decent attempt from outside the box with his left foot.

13 mins -- Beckham's playing further upfield this game than he did against D.C. on Wednesday and the Galaxy look full of confidence. Alan Gordon even tried a bicycle kick just now in the box. In the meantime, Ante Jazic has gone down injured.

17 mins -- Jazic is being stretchered off with a sprained ankle. Gavin Glinton is coming on as his replacement.

18 mins -- The crowd here at Giants Stadium is doing the Wave.

19 mins -- Pavon with some sterling defensive work in midfield, tracks back, disposses the Red Bulls then takes off with a run and is hacked down. If anything is proof positive of the effect Beckham has on the Galaxy, it's the new-look Pavon tonight. He actually looks like he's hustling which will be news to Galaxy fans everywhere.

20 mins -- Beckham with a free kick again from the right side, it's dangerous once again and falls to Alan Gordon who's six yards out with a chance to score and give Beckham a hat trick of assists. Naturally he misses, hitting a soft attempt straight at Ronald Waterreus. I try to be positive about Gordon I really do ...

22 mins -- Beckham's constantly exhorting his teammates out there, he's very vocal on the field.

23 mins -- Nice run from Angel who beats two Galaxy players, including Beckham, and squares it for Altidore who feeds Dane Richards in the box. However, Richards' cross is into the side-netting.

25 mins -- A dangerous cross from van den Bergh who finds Angel just outside the six. Angel's shot is blocked by Ty Harden however. Angel has another chance from the ensuing corner but blasts wide from six yards out, that was a golden opportunity and the type of chance you'd expect him to put away.

29 mins -- Beckham with a perfectly weighted teardrop of a pass down the Red Bulls' right side for Mike Randolph who forces a corner. This time Beckham's cross is met and cleared by Waterreus.

31 mins -- Carlos Pavon is playing like a man reborn. He just cleared a goal-bound shot from Clint Mathis off the line. What has happened to Pavon tonight?

35 mins -- Altidore goes down in the box, but it's waved off by the ref.

36 mins -- Beckham strays down the right side to send in a cross which Pavon slams wide.

37 mins -- Pavon again with the ball, sends in a cross or a shot, the intent was unclear but it misses by this much. Almost another goal. In the meanwhile the entire press box is wondering who the masked stranger wearing Pavon's No. 20 shirt is.

39 mins -- Hunter Freeman with a great run, attacking the Galaxy's left flank before squaring it perfectly for Angel who one-times a shot destined for the Galaxy net, but Cannon pulls off a tremendous save. The corner comes to nothing.

41 mins -- The Galaxy have another corner kick and Beckham is booed as he goes to take it. Presumably Red Bull fans have figured out that the man is detrimental to their team's chances of winning this game. The corner goes straight to Donovan who tries a chip, but it goes over.

42 mins -- Galaxy break again with Donovan who streaks into the penalty box, rounds Wattereus but pushes the ball narrowly wide right.

43 mins -- Van den Bergh with a great cross and Altidore meets it full-blooded with his head on a dead run from inside the six. Cannon makes another great stop to deny the Red Bulls. Granted, it was headed straight at him, but it was still with tremendous power.

45 mins -- GOAL. Red Bulls 2-2. Into time added on, and Dane Richards with some great trickery on the left wing, makes Chris Klein looks silly and slices into the box. His shot is deflected but goes directly to Clint Mathis who nails it with a sweet volley into Cannon's top right corner (that's Mathis' club record 45th goal for the Red Bulls). And that's halftime.

Halftime -- We're at the half and so far, this game has been tremendous. The Galaxy look unrecognizable from the dregs that had been taking the field all season long. Beckham's arrival has transformed them dramatically, you can see it in the way their players are hustling and making concerted efforts to run off the ball in the hope that Beckham sends it their way. As for the Red Bulls, they've had the better chances and only some standout keeping from Joe Cannon has denied them.

The players are coming back out onto the field. The Red Bulls are set to kick off.

46 mins -- We're off. Pavon is taken down in the box but the ref waves it off, Beckham can't believe it.

47 mins --The Galaxy get a free kick on the left side of the penalty box about 30 yards out. It's not an ideal angle but Beckham might try a shot from here. He does, it slams straight into the wall.

48 mins -- GOAL. Red Bulls 3-2. Altidore on a break from a pass by Mathis, splits the D and calmly finishes past Cannon. Is this game scripted or what? Great stuff.

50 mins: Angel finishes another Red Bull attack with a shot straight at Cannon. It's all Red Bulls right now.

52 mins -- Right as I said that the Galaxy get a free kick dead center about 35 yards out, Beckham is lining up.

53 mins -- Beckham's free kick hits the wall again though. He doesn't seem to be getting his usual lift on his shot. It might be his unfamiliarity with the turf.

56 mins -- Great ball from Beckham splits the Red Bull D, and frees Donovan who bursts into the box and squares it invitingly across the 6-yard box and who is arriving on the scene totally unmarked and ready to bury the easiest of chances? It's Alan Gordon. Guess what, he doesn't even get it on target.

57 mins -- The Galaxy are stepping up the pressure, another Becks corner to another chorus of boos. It's headed clear by the Red Bulls, but Beckham gets the ball back and sends in another cross. However, this one is easily gathered by Wattereus.

59 mins -- Kyle Veris coming on for Alan Gordon.

60 mins -- Altidore looking very dangerous, cuts into the box and sets up van den Bergh, whose side-footed shot is saved by Cannon.

63 mins -- Kyle Martino sighting. He just touched the ball. That's the first I've seen of him since he lined up for the national anthem.

65 mins -- Another nice pass from Beckham, a little chip that sends Pavon away for a shot that is blocked for a Galaxy corner. The corner is cleared by the Red Bulls.

66 mins -- Attendance has just been announced at 66,237. Not too shabby for a MLS game I'd say. It's a MLS all-time record for those keeping track.

67 mins -- Martino finally gets into the game. A nice give-and-go with Landon Donovan who squares for him to shoot, albeit over.

70 mins -- GOAL. Red Bulls 4-2. Jozy Altidore weaves past Klein in the box with a couple of nifty stepovers and buries a shot past Cannon. Great goal, from the U-20 star who's destined for Europe very, very soon.

71 mins -- GOAL. Galaxy 4-3. Anything you can do, er, I can do as well. Donovan takes the kickoff, bursts straight up the middle, veers right and slots the ball past Wattereus. Sheer brilliance from Donovan. This is crazy stuff.

73 mins -- Martino with a strong run and hauled down by Joe Vide. This is Beckham range, but his freekick is headed away by the wall.

76 mins -- Glinton is subbed off for Edson Buddle. As stated many times, Buddle has the talent, but rarely produces -- maybe he'll surprise us tonight.

77 mins -- Martino wins another free kick outside the box. This one is closer. Beckham's direct free kicks have been disappointing so far, which means he'll probably score now that I've typed that.

78 mins -- Maybe not. Yet again the shot hits the wall.

80 mins -- Galaxy corner. Beckham to take it once again.

81 mins -- GOAL. Galaxy 4-4. Veris heads the corner against the post, the rebound falls to Buddle who slots it home. Edson Buddle, you'll never walk alone! We are tied here. In the meantime one of my writers, Kristian Dyer, is nearly decapitated by a bunch of media guides dropped by one of the foreign press reporters seated above us. I'm concerned, but only because I need Dyer to do the sidebar off the game tonight.

84 mins -- Altidore looking dangerous once again in the box, and only a sliding tackle by Veris saves the day.

85 mins -- Red Bulls free kick about 35 yards out. Angel tries his luck but it sails over.

86 mins -- Beckham looks sluggish right now, perhaps his ankle is troubling him. I don't think the intention was to play him the full 90, but given his competitive nature, it wouldn't surprise me if he has stayed on of his own accord.

88 mins -- GOAL. Red Bulls 5-4. Mathis with a long-range effort which Cannon does well to parry, but the rebound falls to Angel at the near post who forces it in. Cannon almost pulls off an amazing double save but it's not to be. Can the Galaxy come back once more? The Red Bulls' strikers have certainly stolen the show tonight, but there's no doubt the Galaxy sorely miss Abel Xavier on defense.

90 mins -- Carlos Mendes in for Clint Mathis and we have 4 minutes of added time.

92 mins -- Mike Magee comes in for Jozy Altidore. It's looking bleak for the Galaxy now.

94 mins -- Last gasp chance for the Galaxy. Donovan sends in a cross for Beckham who tries a diving header but it's blocked. You might not know this, but heading the ball has never been Beck's forte ...

Game over. Red Bulls 5-4 Galaxy. Even MLS' harshest critics would be hard-pressed to say that wasn't an entertaining game. It was one of those games that neither team deserved to lose, but for the Red Bulls, a team in need of a serious attendance boost, that had to have helped. For the Galaxy, the playoffs are looking like a distant dream at this point and it's a pity since the team has definitely started to show some life lately.
Jen Chang is the U.S. Soccer editor for ESPNsoccernet. He also writes regularly and is a contributer to Soccernet podcasts. He joined ESPN Studio Production in 2004 and earned a Sports Emmy award, before making the move to ESPN.com in 2005.

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