Sean Franklin punctuated his stellar 2011 MLS campaign with his first-ever MLS goal and helped the LA Galaxy beat the Columbus Crew by 1-0 at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday and extend their MLS unbeaten streak to 13 games.
Franklin’s goal midway through the second half broke open what had been a frustrating night for the Galaxy, who had been ineffective with their 16 corner kick attempts. But the right back accounted for that and took some of the pressure off the team’s ineffective set-piece night.
The Galaxy made some slight changes to the starting lineup as coach Bruce Arena went with Jovan Kirovski in the midfield while Gregg Berhalter paired with A.J. DeLaGarza in central defense.
Columbus forward Andrés Mendoza fell to the field very early and was immediately taken off, as Tommy Heinemann replaced Mendoza in the second minute. Columbus took some time to settle in with Heinemann as the lone striker up top.
Robbie Rogers nearly fooled Josh Saunders with a 27-yard rocket in the 18th minute but Saunders made the stop. But the ball bounced off Saunders’ hands, bounced off the goal line and then safely into the LA 'keeper's grasp.
Landon Donovan sliced apart Columbus’ defense with a penetrating run through the heart of the field in the 30th minute and laid the ball off to Juan Pablo Ángel, but the Galaxy striker’s chip on an empty net sailed wide of the goal.
Moments later, Miguel López tested William Hesmer with a header from 15 yards but Hesmer made a diving save and batted the ball away.
Midway through the second half, the Galaxy finally got the break they needed. David Beckham swung a free kick on goal, and the shot hit the wall and bounced out to Franklin. Earlier, Franklin had lined up a similar attempt but Crew 'keeper William Hesmer made the save. This time, Franklin ripped a 30-yarder that delfected off Eric Gehrig and into the back of the net.
Columbus felt some pressure to attack but could not mount too much pressure despite the need to find and equalizer.
About the only blemish late in the match was a yellow card Beckham picked up in stoppage time. The booking means the English midfielder will miss the Galaxy’s next game, a July 30 match at Vancouver.
With the victory, the Galaxy improve to 11-2-9 and get some breathing room on second-place Seattle. LA next take on Manchester City in the World Football Challenge on Sunday.
Columbus, meanwhile, drop to 7-6-7 and miss a chance to pull even with first-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings. The Crew next host Portland on Saturday.
LA -- Sean Franklin 1 (unassisted) 70
LA -- Gregg Berhalter (caution; Reckless Tackle) 16
CLB -- Julius James (caution; Tactical Foul) 65
LA -- Juninho (caution; Reckless Foul) 85
LA -- David Beckham (caution; Delaying a Restart) 92+
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda,
Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner (Jeff Cunningham 88), Eddie
Gaven, Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 75), Emmanuel Ekpo, Eric Gehrig,
Robbie Rogers, Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann 4).
Substitutes Not Used: Rich Balchan, Kevin Burns, Dejan Rusmir, Andy Gruenebaum.
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, A.J.
DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Jovan Kirovski (Michael
Stephens 83), David Beckham, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel
(Bryan Jordan 85), Miguel Lopez (Mike Magee 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Omar Gonzalez, Hector Jimenez, Jack McBean, Brian Perk.
Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 69 degrees