Harrison, NJ - If the 22,663 fans gathered on Sunday at a Red Bull Arena learned one thing about Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez, it's that he wouldn't make it as a MMA fighter—and much less as a luchador.
Before the Western Conference Semifinals first leg turned into the Survivor Series, Red Bulls fans were treated to a competitive but ugly match, where a total of 19 fouls were called.
Seconds after the New York Red Bulls lost 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals, however, the sparks really began to fly. Marquez clearly threw the ball and hit Galaxy MF Landon Donovan.
In a sequence of events that would have restored TNA'a Impact Wrestling storyline, a melee broke out. As Galaxy Adam Cristman confronted the Mexican international, Marquez threw a misfired head-butt and punch before falling to the ground in a motion that hearkened to mind images of Eddie Guerrero.
LA midfielder Juninho and New York defender Stephen Keel rushed in and within a matter of seconds, both players needed to be restrained by their teammates from devolving into fisticuffs. Adding the finishing touches was none other than David Beckham, who did his signature clap and thanked the traveling LA supporters for coming to Red Bull Arena and braving winter conditions, including an incredible snowstorm whose lingering effects could be seen on the pitch.
As a result of the shenanigans which took place following the game, both Rafa Marquez and Juninho were issued a red card and are now suspended for Thursday night's return leg at the Home Depot Center.
A day after the Tri-State Area was hit by a Winter Storm, the Red Bulls groundskeeping crew had done an excellent job in removing the snow and having Red Bull Arena ready for a match.
Thanks to their effort, Sunday's playoff match was blessed with crispy autumn winds with a pale sun watching above. Joining the weather was none other than the South Ward, who brought their chants and colorful choices of words as they sang and jumped jovially throughout the match.
Unfortunately for them, their spirited effort and exhortations didn't create any lasting detrimental effect upon the Galaxy, who took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
David Beckham and Sean Franklin exchanged a couple of short passes before Beckham passed it to former Red Bulls player Mike Magee, who accepted the well-timed pass with nary a Red Bulls defender marking him before firing home to give his teammates the only goal they would need on Sunday to grab a crucial away victory.
For the remainder of the match, the Red Bulls attempted to equalize. Whenever they would penetrate inside the box, the Galaxy defenders would swarm in and clear the ball of danger. For the match, the Red Bulls had a 17-9 shot and 6-1 corner kick advantage. Even with five shots on goal, the Red Bulls weren't able to get the ball past Galaxy GK Josh Saunders, who provided a couple positively breathtaking reaction saves.
The Red Bulls final chance came in 89th minute, when Medhi Ballouchy sent in a corner kick and Carlos Mendes jumped over his defender and misfired his header. During four additional minutes of stoppage time, the Red Bulls were unable to produce a game-tying goal.
With the second leg now taking place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the Red Bulls will need to produce another road victory and produce more goals in order to advance to the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals.
Other 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs Results from the Weekend
Real Salt Lake won 3-0 over the Seattle Sounders.
Cesar Diaz is a mild-mannered reporter who writes for several online publications. If there's a soccer topic you believe that needs to be written about, please feel free to contact him. Easily accessible, you may contact him CoveringSoccer@gmail.com and at @CoveringSoccer.