CARSON, Calif. - Philadelphia Union dropped their first result of 2011 at the hands of the LA Galaxy, falling 1-0 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday. Leonardo headed home a David Beckham free kick, the first goal conceded by the Union this season.
The goal came from a Beckham set piece in the 33rd minute. After Juninho was taken down some 30 yards out, Beckham lined up a free kick and sent it to the heart of the penalty area. Leonardo shook off Stefani Miglioranzi’s mark and rattled in a header off the right post.
Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall was sent off in the 53rd minute and LA had to kill off nearly the entire second half to walk away with their first home victory of the year.
Landon Donovan, Donovan Ricketts and Omar Gonzalez got the start after missing last week’s 4-1 loss at RSL. For Ricketts and Gonzalez, the match was the first minutes they’ve played this season. Justin Mapp, a starter for Philadelphia in their season opener, missed his second straight match.
Philadelphia was not pushing forward much in the first half, and thus the Galaxy had the majority of the possession, but LA had just one shot in the first half-hour to show for it.
Then the free-kick came, and Leonardo was there to nod home his first career goal. It marked the second straight game Beckham had set up a goal off a free kick. Additionally, the goal meant that Leonardo and fellow Sao Paulo player Juninho had accounted for three of the Galaxy’s first four goals of the 2011 season.
Philadelphia attacked more to start the second half and nearly saw Sebastian Le Toux get himself free. But it was the Galaxy who had the first clear chance of the second half as Juninho slammed a shot off the crossbar in the 50th minute.
Still, Philadelphia gained a strong advantage when Birchall was sent off in the 53rd minute after a brief tussle with Carlos Ruiz. For his trouble, Ruiz was booked.
The Union countered by taking out Kyle Nakazawa and replacing him with Roger Torres, and later inserted Jack McInerney in place of Sheanon Williams.
Juan Pablo Angel nearly put the game away in the 75th minute when he and Donovan combined on a counter-attack, but Angel flashed his header wide of the near post.
The Galaxy proceeded to kill the remaining 15 minutes off. Ricketts had to come off of his line several times, and McInerney had a late chance that he pushed wide.
McInerney would go on to see red deep in stoppage time after a shoving match with LA’s Chad Barrett.
The Galaxy go to 2-1-1 on the season, while Philadelphia suffered their first loss and now stand 2-1-0, remaining all alone atop the Eastern Conference.
The Union will square off against D.C. United in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play-in match this Wednesday, 7:30pm, before hosting the New York Red Bulls at PPL Park next Saturday at 7:00pm.
LA - Leonardo 1 (David Beckham 2) 33
LA - Miguel Lopez (caution; Reckless Foul) 51
LA - Chris Birchall (ejection; Violent Conduct) 53
PHI - Carlos Ruiz (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 53
LA - Donovan Ricketts (caution; Delaying a Restart) 60
PHI - Sheanon Williams (caution; Tactical Foul) 63
PHI - Jordan Harvey (caution; Reckless Tackle) 78
PHI - Danny Califf (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88
LA - David Beckham (caution; Delaying a Restart) 89
LA - Landon Donovan (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+
PHI - Jack McInerney (ejection; Violent Conduct) 95+
LA Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Leonardo, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, David Beckham (Jovan Kirovski 89), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett 89), Miguel Lopez (Bryan Jordan 57).
Substitutes Not Used: A.J. DeLaGarza, Frankie Hejduk, Mike Magee, Josh Saunders.
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Jordan Harvey, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Sheanon Williams (Jack McInerney 73), Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 62), Danny Mwanga (Keon Daniel 46), Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Thorne Holder.
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Darren Clark; Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Chris Penso
Time of Game: 1:55