The New York Red Bulls scored a morale-boosting victory Saturday night when it defeated the high-powered offensive team and defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
The depleted Red Bulls (5-3-1) with five starters missing because of injuries, including league-leading scorer Thierry Henry, went to Los Angeles (3-5-1) as underdogs and came out top dogs when Joel Lindpere’s goal in the 19th minute stood.
The same squad had ground out a similar victory the previous Saturday at Red Bull Arena when it held off an aggressive New England Revolution team to finish with the same score line. The Galaxy matchup was a more difficult game. New York played a very defensive formation, with one forward in Kenny Cooper, but Lindpere made runs forward from his midfield position to support Cooper, and it was one of those early runs that led to the goal from an assist by Jan Gunnar Solli.
The defending champion was in desperate need of a win, coming off a mid-week loss at Western Conference foe Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy of stars, which included England international David Beckham, Irish international Robbie Keane and U.S. internationals Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, along with highly-rated Brazilian midfielder Juninho – were keen on redeeming themselves, but the Red Bulls makeshift backline – led by rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara and included Connor Lade, Tyler Ruthven, Markus Holgersson and Brandon Barklage – stymied Los Angeles’ offense. Except for Holgersson, none of the other defenders have started more than three games in MLS.
The game was watched by Stuart Pierce, who is considering Beckham for the European Championships in June and the Olympics in July. Pierce, the interim England coach, will make way for Roy Hodgeson for the Europeans Championship but will coach the British Olympic soccer squad.
The win did much for the confidence of the young players, who know now that they can play with the best in MLS after defeating the MLS champion; the situation should create competition on the team, which is good for head coach Hans Backe, who must be credited for inspiring his young charges to their second straight shutout.
Chelsea Wins FA Cup
The Cinderella season for Chelsea FC of the English Premier league continued last Saturday when the London club defeated Liverpool FC to win the English FA Cup (Football Association Cup), 2-1, at London’s Wembley Stadium. Ramires and Didier Drogba each scored a goal in each half for the winners and second half substitute Andy Carroll tallied for Liverpool.
Chelsea was in disarray for most of the early part of the season when young Portuguese coach Andre Vilas-Boas was in charge. The Portuguese had replaced Italian coach Mario Ancelotti at the start of the English Premiership season last August, but never earned the players’ respect needed to be successful. He was relieved of his duties early in the year and former Chelsea player and assistant coach Roberto Di Mateo took over the leadership of the club and the Cinderella ending to the season began.
Chelsea can add to their FA Cup win by beating hosts Bayern Munich in the European Champions League final in Germany on Saturday, May 19. Meanwhile, Manchester City beat Newcastle United, 2-0, in the penultimate game of the English Premier League on goals by midfielder Yaya Toure to come close to winning its first English Premier League title with one game to play. Manchester City and rival Manchester United are in first and second place respectively in the league, but City is ahead on goal difference and only has to win its final game on Sunday to win it first title in over 40 years.
In other MLS action last weekend, Real Salt Lake beat the New England Revolution 2-1 to share the top spot in the Western Conference. Real Salt Lake got its goals from Alvaro Saborio (33rd, 55th) and the Revs tally came from Blake Brettschneider (22nd).
The emerging San Jose Earthquakes were stopped in their tracks by the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1; Chris Wondolowski gave the Earthquakes the lead early, but Gershon Koffie (20th) and Eric Hassli (87th) led Vancouver; Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City lost, 2-0, to the Montreal Impact, which got goals from Felipe Martins and Patrice Bernier; DC United topped Toronto FC, 2-0, on second half goals from Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi.
Mauro Rosales led the Seattle Sounders to a 1-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union; Chicago Fire defeated Chivas USA, 2-1; and the Colorado Rapids knocked off FC Dallas, 2-0.
MLS To Take A Goal Line Stand
Major League Soccer is taking the lead on a very controversial topic and would like to implement goal-line technology this summer if the move is approved by FIFA, soccer governing body. FIFA’s Rules arm, the International Football Association, will make a decision on the MLS proposal at a meeting on July 2.
‘’We’re interested in being a test league and we hope that we could achieve that,’’ MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Thursday while speaking to the Associated Press Sports Editors. ‘’I would be open to whatever it is that could be done to ensure that we have goal-line technology.’’
The timing of MLS’ proposal to have more definitive decisions on whether the ball completely crossed the goal line to award a goal comes at a very good time in light of much recent controversy on goals awarded in the presence of doubt as whether the entire ball crossed the goal line. The latest row occurred during a very competitive London derby (territorial rivalry between two London clubs) when an English referee awarded Chelsea FC a goal against Tottenham Hotspurs in the English FA Cup semifinal two weeks ago. Replays shows conclusively that the ball did not cross the goal line during a frantic scramble in front of Tottenham’s goal; later after the game, the referee felt compelled to apologize to the Tottenham’s coach Harry Redknapp for the blunder.
The technological devices being considered for approval are the Sony Corp.’s Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, owned by a German-Danish company. Both devices send a signal to the referee within a second of the entire ball crossing the goal line. The MLS commissioner said, upon approval, the technology could be used in MLS this season.
Garber also said that the league wants to improve the game and points to the MLS’ policy of utilizing video reviews to punish players for simulation and fouls, which he said was working. Recently, New York Red Bulls’ Rafael Marquez escaped being carded for a blatant foul on San Jose Earthquake’s midfielder Shea Salinas during a recent game at Red Bull Arena, but on video review, the Mexican international was subsequently suspended for three games.
In other MLS news, Garber said that MLS was interested in former Real Madrid legend and Spain forward Raul Gonzalez coming to the USA when his two-year contract with Schalke of the German Bundesliga expires this summer. Raul is 35 and is Real Madrid’s all-time leading scorer.
The commissioner also reiterated the leagues long-time desire to have a franchise in New York City. According to Garber, the league is very interest in having its next club, the 20th franchise, in New York and talks are centered first on a stadium, before focusing on several groups that are interested in owning the New York MLS franchise. Other markets for future expansion, according to Garber, include Miami, Orlando and Atlanta. On a note about attendance figures this season, the commissioner added that with the addition of Montreal this year, average attendance in the league is 19,493 through 53 games, up 12 percent from 17,370 at this point last year.