Mike Magee and Landon Donovan answered Luke Rodgers’ early tally as the LA Galaxy beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal on Thursday night at The Home Depot Center.
On the strength of a 3-1 aggregate victory, the Galaxy advanced to Sunday’s Western Conference Championship against Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center.
Perhaps feeding off the emotional pre-game chatter, Rodgers got the Red Bulls on the scoreboard first. Just four minutes in, Thierry Henry slipped a ball through an uncharacteristic hole in the Galaxy’s backline. Rodgers ran onto it and easily beat Josh Saunders.
Before the ensuing kickoff, though, Rodgers picked up a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Perhaps to punctuate that, the striker later smashed a ball into the stands that was headed across the touchline, nearly nailing a pair of fans in the process.
New York suffered a blow in the 16th minute when midfielder Teemu Tainio was ruled out of the remainder of the match with a hamstring injury. Stephane Auvray replaced him, but the Galaxy took advantage of the move, which seemed to unsettle the Red Bulls.
Galaxy forward Robbie Keane got free a couple of times soon after but Red Bulls ‘keeper Frank Rost made a pair of tremendous saves to keep the hosts from getting on the scoreboard.
New York Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy Video Recap
Beckham then hit the turf for a few moments as his back seemingly gave out on him after challenging New York's Dane Richards for an aerial ball. Beckham was helped off the field and appeared to be favoring his back, which has hampered him for the majority of the year.
But Beckham returned to the pitch shortly after and, Injury or not, he swung a deadly corner kick into the penalty area in the 42nd minute that Magee buried for the equalizer.
The goal seemed to lift the tension from the hosts, who were trying to avoid their second consecutive home playoff defeat.
Beckham came out for the second half looking spry as his back gave him no noticeable discomfort.
Rodgers broke through in the 57th minute, taking a through ball from Dax McCarty and beating Omar Gonzalez, but Rodgers hit the outside of the net and failed to level the aggregate score.
Henry picked up a yellow card for kicking Gonzalez from behind in the 61st minute.
The Galaxy finally got the break they needed in the 73rd minute when Roy Miller chopped down Beckham from behind inside the penalty area. Donovan buried the ensuing spot kick to give the Galaxy a 2-1 lead in the match and an insurmountable 3-1 aggregate lead.
NY -- Luke Rodgers 1 (Thierry Henry 1) 4
LA -- Mike Magee 2 (David Beckham 2) 42
LA -- Landon Donovan 1 (penalty kick) 75
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