Gonzalez, Barrett lift Galaxy past Alajuelense
After sweeping through their first two CONCACAF Champions League games at home, the Los Angeles Galaxy will need to keep up their strong play when they leave the country.
Omar Gonzalez scored on a cross by David Beckham and the Galaxy beat Alajuelense 2-0 on Thursday night to stay unbeaten in CONCACAF play.
''This is exactly where we wanted to be,'' Gonzalez said. ''We wanted to win the first two games at home and go (on the road) with a bit of breathing room.''
The Galaxy's favorable group stage draw has worked out in their favor. After being awarded consecutive home games to open play, the Galaxy have won both while outscoring the opposition 4-0.
Chad Barrett, playing for the first time since July 4, added an insurance goal in the 77th minute as the win pushed Los Angeles to the top of Group A, three points clear of a pair of clubs tied for second.
Now comes the difficult part - picking up points on the road. The Galaxy face tough matches in their next two tournament outings, both coming in hostile environments.
Up first is Mexican side Morelia on Sept. 13, followed by a rematch with Alajuelense.
''I think it's best not to think about it,'' Gonzalez said. ''We need to just worry about what we can control.''
Against an Alajuelense squad playing without its leading scorer, the Galaxy benefited from being able to field a strong starting 11. Coach Bruce Arena originally planned on resting some key players, including Beckham, with an important MLS showdown against New York looming in three days.
That match was postponed Thursday because impending Hurricane Irene, which is expected bring inclement weather all up the East Coast on Sunday.
Beckham was in the starting lineup and made his mark. He sent a left corner kick high into the box in the 38th minute, allowing Gonzalez to get his 6-foot-5 frame in position near the front post. Despite facing away from the net, Gonzalez managed to get the back of his head on the ball and redirect it past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.
''He always has an advantage on set pieces,'' Arena said of his towering defender.
Jonathan Martin, Alajuelense' top playmaker, did not suit up because of an injury. He scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Morelia in their opener and could have provided an offense spark against Los Angeles.
''The game was tailor-made for someone like him,'' Alajuelense coach Oscar Ramirez said. ''We would have loved to have him.''
Both sides struggled to get much of a flow going, with a flurry of offsides and foul calls halting play. Beckham, who was particularly upset with the officiating afterwards, drew a yellow card in the 31st minute under strange circumstances.
After the Galaxy were awarded a corner kick, Beckham asked the linesman for more space near the sidelines before he attempted the kick. Head referee Marco Rodriguez ran over a brief moment later and present a visibly-unhappy Beckham with the card for not kicking the ball in a timely fashion.
''It was very weird,'' Beckham said.
The Galaxy played out the final few minutes with 10 men when Juninho was sent off with a red card. The Brazilian midfielder went air born and inadvertently elbowed the head of Alajuelense defender Jhonny Acosta. He will miss the tournament's next match.
''There were some terrible decisions,'' Beckham said. ''For both teams. Not just us.''
The Galaxy may have lost a player to injury in the victory. Starting left back Gregg Berhalter had to be carried off on a stretcher in the 27th minute with a right leg injury. He left the stadium in a walking boot and was scheduled to get X-rays on Friday.