Welcome to "MLS Primetime Thursday" on ESPN2 with kickoff at 9.30 p.m. ET. The Galaxy will be taking on Chivas USA and a certain Mr. David Beckham is expected to play significant minutes. As usual, the game is being billed as a 'Super Clasico' clash, although I tend to think whoever copyrighted the phrase had something different in mind. Spot the odd one out -- Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, River Plate vs. Boca Juniors, Hilary Duff vs. Lindsay Lohan and ... the Galaxy vs. Chivas USA. That's actually not intended as a dig at MLS, it's referring to the fact that the series has been wildly unbalanced so far in the Galaxy's favor and until Chivas gets its act together, it really doesn't constitute much of a rivalry. Let's face it, if Chivas can't beat a reeling Galaxy team with a jet-lagged and fatigued Landon Donovan and David Beckham, then there's nothing left to say. In other random news today, Barcelona executives are early candidates for the "Shrewdest Offseason Moves of the Year Award." Not only did the team add Thierry Henry at a bargain knock-down price (giving the team arguably four of the world's six best players), but the team managed to offload comedy defender Juliano Belletti to Chelsea today. Even more surprising than the news that Chelsea see Belletti as the solution to its right back situation (cue laughter here), is the team's unwillingess to pay a few extra million to secure stud right back Dani Alves from Sevilla. Settling for Belletti instead of Alves is kind of like the Galaxy trying to sign Juan Pablo Angel and settling for, well, Alan Gordon. Former U.S. No. 1 keeper Kasey Keller signs with Fulham. "Kasey is a proven professional with impeccable international credentials," said Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez, while hastily burning all video evidence of Keller's recent Copa America performance. ESPN's Allen Hopkins broke the story earlier this afternoon that former Brazilian international Denilson will be arriving in MLS to play for Dallas. I'm extremely excited about this signing for a couple of reasons. First, although he never lived up to the lofty projections, Denilson's still a hugely entertaining player and adds a level of flair that doesn't exist in MLS right now. Secondly, once Denilson breaks out his famed stepover moves, the hope is that U.S. players will watch and learn and realize that an effective stepover requires you to be moving forward while you perform it, not the rather useless stationary variant perfected by a certain unnamed speedy U.S. international who turned down a move to Derby. In any case, I'll be back when the game starts with a play-by-play and for those of you itching to relive classic U.S. soccer games, check out Dave Brett's classic American soccer video archive. OK, so that was a shameless plug for another of my readers, but hey, he really does have some classic NASL games etc. that you can check out.
PLAY-BY-PLAYWe're off, now that the WNBA marathon has finally ended. 12 mins -- not much happening so far except for the fact that Beckham slightly tweaked his ankle on a long-range effort. 14 mins -- Maykel Galindo breaks into the box and forces a save from Joe Cannon. Just like it's impossible to hear Brian Ching's name on TV without the word "Hawaiian" attached, these days it's impossible to hear the name Galindo without "Cuban refugee" attached. 17 mins -- Starting lineups are announced on air, and all Galaxy fans need to know is that Alan Gordon is not starting. Thank the Lord. Oh, and Landon Donovan is not starting either, he apparently took a knock in Sweden. 18 mins -- Spoke too soon, career underachiever Edson Buddle, the homeless destitute man's Eddie Johnson, limps to the sideline. Can he carry on? Let's hope so, or else we might see Gordon. 19 mins -- Still not a lot happening. I think I'll map out my draft board for my fantasy football draft this Sunday in the meantime. 24 mins -- So if Buddle is the poor man's Eddie Johnson, then Chivas USA's Francisco Mendoza is the equally poor man's Andres Guardado. Still nothing happening. 25 mins -- A moment of excitement, Galindo skips past two tackles and plays Sacha Kljestan in nicely with a great chance. Kljestan can't finish, blasts it straight at Cannon, and the chance is wasted. Expect a national team callup for Kljestan against Brazil then. 26 mins -- Off camera, Ante Razov takes out Beckham with a sliding tackle. Doesn't he know there is a Beckham-cam following the man's every move? You can't even breathe in Beckham's direction these days without being caught. To his credit Beckham bites his lip and doesn't respond. It's a good thing Razov didn't insult his sister instead. 27 mins -- The increasingly composed Mike Randolph breaks down the left but his run is stopped. Going back the other way, Kljestan plays a great through ball which splits the entire Galaxy defense and sets Galindo off to the races, but Cannon saves the day. That was a nice pass indeed by Kljestan, I'd even give him more credit if it wasn't against the Galaxy. 30 mins -- Cannon saves the Galaxy again. Chivas USA broke down the left with Francisco Guardado feeding Galindo who then fed Razov inside the box for a vicious shot that Cannon parried. Chivas USA are attacking Chris Klein's flank with abandon. 31 mins -- Abel "I refuse to play on artificial turf" Xavier hacks down Mendoza in the box to prevent a goal. You could make a fair case that Chivas should have had a penalty there. 34 mins -- Carlos Pavon forces a corner. And Beckham has his first opportunity of the night. A teasing cross but it doesn't find anyone and Chivas clears. 35 mins -- Beckham looks really tired out there tonight. 36 mins -- Galaxy earn a free kick on the right side about 40 yards out. It's the same spot that Beckham had two assists against the Red Bulls from. He sends it deep again looking for Pavon but it's cleared.
37 mins -- Galaxy corner. Beckham sends it deep to the far post and Kyle Veris heads wide. 40 mins -- Lawson Vaughn hacks down Beckham from behind (needlessly) and gets carded. It's too far out for a Beckham special methinks. Instead of shooting, he chips it in and Pavon heads it over. 43 mins -- This game is drab. Most definitely not Super Clasico-caliber. Beckham is justifiably tired and Donovan is sidelined, but what's the excuse for the rest of the Galaxy? 45 mins -- Jesse Marsch hacks down Beckham from behind and Becks is riled. Dumb foul by Marsch and Beckham jumps up and confronts Marsch face-to-face and the two teams converge on each other. In the middle of it all, Kevin Harmse gets headbutted by Alex Zotinca. Unbelievable. Both guys get sent off, but it's a bit harsh on Harmse to be honest. He was just pulling Marsch off Beckham. Well, let it be said that the Galaxy with Beckham are never dull. Halftime. If that doesn't fire up both teams for the second half, then nothing will. Even if Beckham was thinking of going off at the half, that tackle by Marsch has basically ensured that Becks will be back in the second half. They just showed a replay, and Harmse actually threw a sneaky uppercut at Marsch which prompted the Zotinca headbutt. Again, on a night where there are 5000 cameras and a Beckham cam, it's probably not the best idea to try to get away with stuff like that ... Bob Ley is interviewing USWMNY superstar Abby Wambach at halftime. I think Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas should seriously think about signing her to replace Alan Gordon at forward. They're coming back out for the second half and Beckham looks very very very serious. Round 2 for Beckham-Marsch then. Second half is under way. With both teams a man down, there's lots of space to exploit, it'd be a perfect situation for Landon Donovan actually. 47 mins -- Galaxy have pulled off Buddle while Chivas is sticking with two strikers. 48 mins -- Galindo with a nice run and blasts it wide right from outside the box. Galindo is looking sharp tonight and the most likely player to break the deadlock. 49 mins -- Nice approach play from Mendoza, who slips Galindo free into the box but his cross is blocked by Kyle Veris. 51 mins -- Kljestan with a nice ball to Razov who blasts it wide, but he was offside anyway. 52 mins -- Poor clearance by Chivas and Galaxy have only their third corner of the night. 53 mins -- Beckham's corner is deep and Veris fails to connect. 54 mins -- Martino feeds Beckham who tries a long-range shot from about 35 yards and misses by about a foot. Good effort. 55 mins -- Chris Klein chips a hopeless cross into the Chivas box. It's about 30 yards too far for everyone else. What exactly was he thinking? Meanwhile, Landon Donovan is warming up. 56 mins -- Martino sets up Klein on the edge of the box. Klein tries to take on a defender but loses the ball. That Nathan Sturgis/Robbie Findley for Klein trade continues to be a stroke of genius. 57 mins -- GOAL. Chivas 1-0. It was inevitable, Maykel Galindo scores. Unfortunately for L.A. the goal comes from a mistake from Kyle Veris who fails to clear from a hopeful long punt. The Galaxy's playoff prospects are looking incredibly bleak right now. 58 mins -- Donovan is in the game now and earns a free kick in midfield which amounts to nothing. 60 mins -- Kljestan on the break for Chivas and taken out from behind by a Kyle Martino sliding tackle. He's lucky he only got a yellow for that. 63 mins -- Beckham with a crafty chip which sends Donovan clear but he's narrowly offside. 65 mins -- Beckham tries a cross-field pass to Klein, but it falls short. He's looking very tired still. 67 mins -- GOAL. Chivas 2-0. Galaxy corner but it's cleared. Chivas breaks -- beautiful combination play between Kljestan, Mendoza and Galindo and Galindo finishes the move by clipping it smartly past Cannon. The Galaxy might be done now. 70 mins -- Randolph makes a nice run down the left flank, but then ruins it by trying to dive to earn a foul just outside the box. Not a bad idea I guess, a Beckham free kick is probably the only way the Galaxy scores tonight. 72 mins -- So I can't help but feel sorry for Becks. He flies halfway across the world on an injured ankle and guts it out for an abject, woeful team that gives him no support and does him no favors. He deserves better ... but that's the English national team for you. 75 mins -- The game has slowed to a crawl and Marsch is limping. MLS executives everywhere are hoping he goes off before he maims Beckham. 76 mins -- Galindo is off now as well and for those of you who didn't know, apparently he's a Cuban refugee. Really? That's news to me. 79 mins -- Hey, apparently in all the gloom I missed Alan Gordon coming on. He makes his presence felt by almost decapitating Brad Guzan and Guzan is upset. 80 mins -- Beckham's corner is met by Veris who sends in a great header and it's cleared off the line by Paulo Nagamura. Nice play by Nagamura, who was left unprotected in the expansion draft by the Galaxy. Another in a long line of brilliant personnel moves by L.A., who could really use a defensive midfielder. 83 mins -- The game has slowed to a crawl but Beckham sends in another cross that forces Guzan to come out and clear. 87 mins -- GOAL. Chivas 3-0. Mendoza wide open in the Galaxy box and a sweet finish. Joe Cannon looks absolutely peeved and he should be. His defense has been horrendous the last two games. The Galaxy might as well play one at the back at this rate. 89 mins -- Beckham is limping hard now and can barely walk. I can't believe the Galaxy let him play the full 90. 90 mins -- Into injury time and Beckham is grimacing and in obvious pain. Fulltime. Chivas USA 3-0 Galaxy. The Galaxy were poor and at this point probably have nothing to play for other than the SuperLiga final next week against Pachuca. Chivas was easily the better team and outclassed the Galaxy. As for Beckham, he wasn't very effective tonight other than a few nice touches, but given his ankle, his lack of fitness and the strenuous travel schedule he's had to endure, it was to be expected. If nothing else, he's proving he has a lot of heart.