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FC DALLAS 6, GALAXY 3

Galaxy suffers on defense in ugly loss

The six goals are the most the team has ever given up in a game.

September 13, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

But for goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, the Galaxy might have lost by five or six goals on Saturday night.

Instead, it lost by "only" three.

Turning in its worst defensive performance of the season, Los Angeles was routed, 6-3, at the Home Depot Center by an FC Dallas team fighting for its playoff life.

The loss was the most lopsided of the season for the Galaxy, which in its 14-year Major League Soccer history had never given up six goals.

The score was bad enough, but just before and just after the final whistle it got ugly. Landon Donovan appeared to clip Dallas midfielder David Ferreira. Then Daniel Hernandez shoved Donovan. Then David Beckham came over and grabbed Hernandez by the neck. Eventually, other players and coaches intervened and calmed things down. The incident might have repercussions later this week once MLS officials view the videotape.

"It nice to see that we could have a little fight in us at the end of the game," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. "It would have been nice if we had shown that kind of competitiveness and fire during the game."

Before that, Arena said his team had dug its own grave, but he took the blame on his own shoulders.

"I think the score tonight was fair," he said. "We were awful from the opening kickoff and deserved everything we got. I think I have to take full responsibility for this performance tonight because when a team performs like that they obviously haven't been pointed in the right direction."

Dallas (7-11-6) scored four unanswered goals in a 16-minute spell midway through the second half after the teams were tied at 2-2 at halftime.

Forward Jeff Cunningham ended up with two goals and one assist. Atiba Harris had a goal and an assist, and Ferreira, Dave van den Bergh and Dax McCarty also scored for Dallas.

For the Galaxy (9-5-11) the goals were provided by A.J. DeLaGarza and Edson Buddle, with the gift of an own goal from Dallas.

Los Angeles fell behind early, thanks to a couple of defensive miscues. First, defender Gregg Berhalter cut Cunningham's legs out from beneath him in the sixth minute -- an ugly tackle that earned Berhalter a yellow card and resulted in a free kick for the visitors.

It was taken by Dutch veteran Van den Bergh, whose effort slammed into the Galaxy defensive wall. The rebound was fired back in and the ball caught Beckham on the arm.

That caused referee Hilario Grajeda to award Dallas another free kick, and this time Van den Bergh sent a low shot skittering through the wall and into the back of goalkeeper Ricketts' net.

Having essentially given away a goal, the Galaxy responded with ferocity, but it was Dallas that scored again.

Cunningham, the second-leading goal scorer in MLS history, controlled the ball deep in Galaxy territory and, despite the attention of defenders Omar Gonzalez and DeLaGarza, swept a shot past Ricketts. It was his 11th goal of the season and 115th in MLS.

The Galaxy got back on even terms, with DeLaGarza's hustle causing Dallas defender Jair Benitez to put the ball in his own net.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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