CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, August 15, 2007) -- David Beckham used the occasion of his first start for the Los Angeles Galaxy to display his considerable skills.
Beckham curled a free kick into the net in the first half, then fed Landon Donovan for a tally early in the second half to give Los Angeles a 2-0 victory over D.C. United in a Superliga 2007 semifinal before 17,223 who watched a meeting of Major League Soccer teams at The Home Depot Center.
The attendance was somewhat of disappointment with more than 10,000 empty seats for a game in which Beckham, MLS's megastar, said he would play at least a half.
The Galaxy will host the Superliga title match against Pachuca of Mexico August 29 here. Pachuca eliminated the Houston Dynamo 4-3 in a penalty-kicks tiebreaker after playing a 2-2 draw through 120 minutes in their semifinal in Houston. A $1-million prize goes to the winning team.
Before scoring his first goal in America, Beckham was issued his first yellow card after clumsily taking United striker Jaime Moreno down.
In the 27th minute, L.A. was given a free kick 27 yards out when United defender Devon McTavish was whistled for hitting the ball with his left arm as he went up for a header with Galaxy striker Carlos Pavon. From above the right side of the penalty arc, Beckham bent his free kick just over the defensive wall into the left corner of the net to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.
United goalkeeper Troy Perkins made it easy for Beckham, taking a fatal initial step to his left, then watching hopelessly as the ball went in the other direction.
It was not the first time this season Perkins made a mistake at a crucial time. CD Guadalajara won a CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal series over United when Gonzalo Pineda's 30-yard shot went through Perkins' hands and into the net for the Mexican club's deciding tally.
"I was cheating" to one side," Perkins told the Los Angeles Times. "I was in a bad spot and he caught me."
United Coach Tom Soehn told The Washington Post: "Troy has to count on his wall a little bit better. He's got to take care of his side of the goal. But it was a great strike. (Beckham) is definitely going to be a good influence in our league."
Perkins did make a diving stop, flying through the air to his right to snag a 32-yard Beckham free kick in the 58th minute, but United trailed 2-0 by that point.
Eleven minutes earlier, Beckham displayed his magic again with his feed to Donovan. While in stride in the defensive side of the center circle, Beckham rolled a lead pass to his right. Donovan had sneaked by United midfielder Josh Gros and had an open run on goal from 40 yards out. Before United's defensive support arrived, Donovan reached the top right center of the penalty area and drilled a shot to the left of the advancing Perkins for a 2-0 advantage,
Beckham departed the match in the 63rd minute. "I always said everyone has to be patient," said Beckham, who had previously appeared as a second-half reserve twice for the Galaxy. "I was happy to get an hour on the pitch. It felt great."
The result was particularly frustrating to United, which dominated large portions of the action, but was betrayed by its finishing. D.C. had an 18-7 edge in shots, 7-4 on net.
Joe Cannon was sensational when he needed to be in the Galaxy net, making a leaping reaction save to his left to deny United forward Luciano Emilio's 13-yard blast from the center of the box to protect the two-goal margin. Soon after, Cannon came sliding out to stuff Emilio's point blank as he shot from inside the right side of the box."