David Beckham scored the winning goal and also had an assist during the Galaxy's… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
Nearly a month after his last start, Galaxy midfielder David Beckham made the most of his return from a back injury Saturday night. Beckham assisted on the Galaxy's first goal and scored the second in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham sent in the game-winner off a corner kick in the 65th minute. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson strayed too far upfield, following the initial trajectory of the kick. When Beckham's trademark spin brought the ball back toward the net, Johnson could not recover in time.
"That second goal, did that touch anyone or did that go in directly?" Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena asked. "I don't know how that went in. That's why we pay him the big money."
The Galaxy's first goal came from a pseudo-corner kick which Beckham sent to the forehead of Galaxy forward Landon Donovan in the 58th minute. Galaxy midfielder Paolo Cardozo had drawn a penalty on Fire midfielder Logan Pause, giving Beckham a free kick on the right sideline about 10 yards from the end of the field. With the beneficial angle, he sent the ball to Donovan who had leapt above Fire defender Gonzalo Segares.
"Once [Donovan] scored, he really lifted his game," Arena said. "We need the leadership out of Landon and David to be successful, and I think we got it tonight."
A mere four minutes after Donovan had given the Galaxy (10-2-9) the initial lead, forward Cristian Nazarit evened the match for the Fire (2-5-12). Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko found Nazarit cutting between Galaxy defenders Gregg Berhalter and Todd Dunivant, and Nazarit sent the ball cleanly past Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
Tempers flared in the four minutes of additional time in the second half after Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchell tackled Nyarko in reckless fashion. As Nyarko writhed in pain and Birchell limped away, Josip Mikulic and Diego Chaves raced toward Birchell. Beckham jumped in to defend his teammate as both benches closed in on the ruckus. Birchell received a yellow card for his tackle, and Arena immediately replaced him with Michael Stephens.
"I bet [a red card was considered] only on the aspect that it caused a bit of a riot," Birchell said. "I think the ref saw it was a mistimed tackle. It was not meant to be vicious."