LA Galaxy-Melbourne Victory: Final MLS Game for David Beckham?
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The Los Angeles Galaxy wrapped up their whirlwind tour of Asia and the Pacific, and also put an end to one of the most productive seasons a Major League Soccer team has ever had.
In possibly the final game featuring David Beckham in a Galaxy jersey, L.A. matched up against a team who resembles their Australian mirror image.
As a fan, it was an interesting game to watch. It resembled a Premier League game, as the opposing squad's style of play is reminiscent of English football.
One could almost envision this game being played in England, and Fox's coverage and the stadium atmosphere reinforced it—albeit without the soccer chanting common to Premier League games.
A fatigued Galaxy team playing their third game in six days, halfway around the world, helped level the competitive playing field.
The Galaxy were obviously running on fumes—their body language showed a tired team during the game—but it looked like they were trying to win. One could see it in their faces.
Outside of Omar Gonzalez, who flew back to Los Angeles in order to tend to family matters, and Juninho, sidelined by an injury picked up in Indonesia during the first game of the Asia trip, the Galaxy largely played their regulars.
The first half was mostly a display of a motivated Victory team taking it aggressively to the Galaxy.
Bryan Jordan struggled in back, and the fatigue showed in a defense that looked more than a step slow.
Will David Beckham return to the LA Galaxy in 2012?
The lack of the steadying influence Gonzalez exerts on the back line especially showed for a Galaxy team that had defensive lapses throughout the match.
Offensively, it wasn't much better.
Beckham provided the best moment of the first half, narrowly missing a shot from behind midfield, reminiscent of the shot he barely missed in the previous game against the Azkals.
The offense of the Galaxy looked stalled compared to the rested Melbourne squad, and by the time the home team started subbing out their starters, Melbourne had already outplayed the touring Galaxy.
Of course, L.A. was on the tail end of their whirlwind tour, and their play in this game showed as much.
Sprinkled amongst the sporadic offense for the Galaxy, we got a few glimpses of the offensive core going forward, if Beckham does as is rumored and returns to Europe to continue his career.
Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane continued to link up nicely up top, their fine interplay showing itself throughout the Asia trip.
Keane and Beckham came off the field when the game was near the end, both looking gassed. Did they know the game would end in penalty kicks if tied at the end of regular time?
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena gave attacking midfielder Paolo Cardozo a chance to shine, holding him out of the previous game in Manila in order to bring him on more rested for this more competitive matchup.
He had mixed results, but it seems he'll be given a chance to take over for Beckham if the Galaxy aren't able to bring in a replacement.
Arena also showed confidence in him, to have him take the final penalty kick, clinching the victory over the Victory. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cardozo crack the starting 11 next year.
Lost amongst the bigger stories was Donovan missing a penalty kick during the shootout: one in a string of occasional misses, especially in key moments.
The missed kick was just a blip on the radar though: something that will be largely forgotten in the overall scheme of things, but possibly lingering in Donovan's mind.
But hopefully not.
Those that stayed up for it were treated to an exciting game. I happen to love these exhibitions—they're a great opportunity for the Galaxy to promote their name and the name of American soccer throughout the world.
More so, though, it's fun to see how an MLS squad measures up to other teams.
The biggest story, of course, is the likelihood that this was the final game Beckham played in a Galaxy jersey. One could argue about how much Beckham impacted things on the field during his five years in L.A., but one thing that can't be argued is his impact off the pitch.
Beckham was probably bigger than the Galaxy. It remains to be seen how the Galaxy look from here on out if he does leave, forcing them to transition into a team that can hold their own without one of the biggest sports stars on the face of the earth playing for them.
It should be interesting, that's for sure.
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