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Understaffed Galaxy isn't overmatched

July 05, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

David Beckham wasn't at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night because he doesn't get back into town until Friday.

Landon Donovan wasn't there, either, because he was "feeling ill," according to a Galaxy spokesman.

Alan Gordon didn't make it onto the field because he was a late scratch after suffering a left calf strain during pregame warmups.

So that left it up to Alecko Eskandarian, acquired only Wednesday from Chivas USA, to power the Galaxy to a hard-fought but ultimately deserved 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution.

It took Eskandarian a mere 7 minutes 52 seconds to notch his first goal in a Galaxy uniform. He made the start in place of Gordon.

The goal was deftly worked. It came when defender Todd Dunivant floated a cross in from the left and Eskandarian, timing his run expertly, met the ball and drove it wide of goalkeeper Matt Reis.

"I know I timed my run perfectly, so I knew I was onside," Eskandarian said. "I was just hoping the linesman would not blow the call. The ball came to my right foot, which is my weaker foot, so I just wanted to kind of guide it into the goal. It was a great ball by Todd. With a ball like that, you've got to hit it first time. I just did my best to keep it low and hit it to the corner and it worked out pretty good."

The match, well-officiated by referee Mark Geiger despite some difficult moments, deteriorated for the rest of the first half, with neither team able to conjure up anything worthy of note.

The one exception came two minutes before the halftime whistle when Galaxy backup goalkeeper Josh Saunders, filling in for Donovan Ricketts, who is playing for Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, made a good reaction save.

New England forward Michael Videira made a heads-up play in the Galaxy penalty area, dropping the ball off to teammate Sainey Nyassi, whose first-time shot was blocked by Saunders.

The goalkeeper repeated the feat in the 73rd minute, this time getting down low and using his right arm to deflect a glancing header by Videira just wide of the left post.

Other than those two chances, the Revolution seldom seriously threatened, despite some good approach work by Nyassi. New England, which was missing several key players, including the hugely influential Shalrie Joseph, fell to 4-5-4 and is ahead of only the hapless New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles did not do much better at creating scoring opportunities, but it did force Reis into two exceptional saves at around the 82nd-minute mark. The first came when the goalkeeper threw himself to his right to deny a Chris Klein header from close range. The second came off the resulting corner kick when Reis tipped a header by Dunivant over the crossbar.

The Galaxy, which had a 14-9 edge in shots, improved to 4-3-9 and climbed above Real Salt Lake, into fifth place in the Western Conference.

It had Eskandarian and Saunders to thank for that.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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