DALLAS FANS DON'T SEE BECKHAM, BUT GET FIREWORKS GALAXY NEARLY BLOWS 4-0 LEAD GALAXY 6, FC DALLAS 5.
FRISCO, Texas - As he sat in the lounge of Pizza Hut Park, munching on a pregame pizza, Galaxy president Alexi Lalas occasionally had his dinner interrupted by fans who gave him something else to chew on:
Why wasn't David Beckham here?
As it turned out, there was a way to appease those who had paid hundreds of dollars and driven hundreds of miles only to arrive here for Tuesday night's SuperLiga game and find out that Beckham was back in Los Angeles nursing his injured left ankle.
Put on a game like this one.
Playing as if the intent was to score a goal for every disgruntled fan, the Galaxy jumped to an early four-goal lead, then hung on for a 6-5 victory as Dallas peppered the Los Angeles goal in the final minutes.
The victory sends the Galaxy into the semifinals of the eight-team tournament featuring MLS and Mexican league teams. With Pachuca's 1-0 win over Chivas de Guadalajara, the Galaxy finishes atop its group and thus will likely play at the Home Depot Center on Aug. 15, against either Houston, D.C. United or Morelia.
"I would imagine most people that came here tonight to watch will go, 'Shoot, I want to come back to watch a game here,'" said Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, who scored a goal and had three assists. "That was awesome. Even though their team lost, it was exciting.
"And people say we don't have good attacking soccer."
Jim Routon and his daughter Sheyna, 13, weren't about to argue. They made the four-hour drive from Norman, Okla., with about 100 others in their youth soccer organization.
"It was a letdown at first, but what a great game," Routon said. "It was like a football score."
Alan Gordon scored two goals, and assisted on another as the Galaxy jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first 18 minutes - the quickest four goals in franchise history.
Then the Galaxy sat back and in the humid Texas night, held on for dear life.
"It was like a training session, like when you play 6 vs. 6 in training for a half an hour -- goal, goal, goal, goal," Donovan said. "It's fun for me as a forward."
About the only one not smiling afterward was Galaxy goalkeeper Joe Cannon, whose name might as well have been Cannonfodder after facing 25 shots.
Cannon might have given up five goals, but he saved just as many - including sprawling to push Domonic Oduro's shot over the bar a minute into the second half, a save that FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow called the play of the game.
Dallas also was unfortunate that the goal of the night -- a bicycle kick from the top of the box by former Galaxy star Carlos Ruiz -- was waved off for offsides, and Abe Thompson's header hit off the goalpost.
"It was kind of like being in the 89th minute up a goal -- for 45 minutes," Cannon said. "They're coming at you, they're throwing everything up, they're not caring if they give up possession. You're just trying to weather the storm."
Cannon talked as he held an icepack to his groin, the result of a collision with Juan Toja as he poked the ball into the net to bring Dallas within 4-2 in the 78th minute. Four minutes later, Dallas got within 4-3, only to have Donovan break free on a counter attack and put the Galaxy ahead 5-3 in the 84th minute.
He immediately ran over to a small group of Galaxy fans, ran his index finger across his throat and shouted: "Game over."
"Obviously it wasn't," Donovan said.
Ruiz brought Dallas within 5-4 in the 91st minute, but Donovan set up Carlos Pavon for his first goal in seven games with the Galaxy to restore the two-goal lead in 95th minute. A minute later, Thompson headed in a corner kick, but Dallas couldn't muster another threat.
There were a few signs that made reference to Beckham's absence. One read: Bench It Like Beckham.
Another was titled "English Exports." It read: 20 million copies of Harry Potter 7 = Priceless. $250 million football player = worthless. Where the Becks are you?
Still, there was little sign of animus in the crowd of 21,576, the largest to watch an FC Dallas game. Several fans said they understood that Beckham wasn't healthy, but they wondered why he couldn't have at least been on the bench.
"David Beckham's not here just to play soccer," said David Flores, who wore an England jersey and made a five-hour drive from San Antonio with two friends.
"He's here to sell the league. He should have come with the team just to wave to the crowd and everybody would have understood."
Heidi Anderson bought three five-game FC Dallas ticket packages, shelled out for a pair of England national team jerseys and loaded up her teenage daughters, Ashley and Jessica, and drove 600 miles from St. Louis to see Beckham.
"I understand why he's not playing," Jessica said. "But he's making $250 million to be an ambassador. Why can't he sit on the bench?"
Lalas said it was simply a matter of being in a pressurized cabin for a 2(bul)-hour plane flight hindering the recovery.
"It's not going to a different market, it's getting on the plane," Lalas said. "We've got another cross country trip Friday (to Toronto). Our medical staff told us if he made this trip, it would set him back two or three days. Believe me, it's killing him not to be here."
When the game was over, a woman stood down in the emptying stands taking a picture of her developmentally disabled son holding up a sign. It read: thanks for the tickets dad, it's not your fault he didn't turn up.
The boy had a smile on his face.
MLS: Galaxy vs. Toronto FC, 4:30 p.m.
(1 -- color) Dallas' Carlos Ruiz, right, vies for the ball after being tripped up by the Galaxy's Ty Harden.
(2) Michael Kirkpatrick of Plano, Texas, holds a sign indicating his displeasure at the Galaxy's David Beckham, who didn't play Tuesday.
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2007|
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