Nowhere, it seems, can MLS teams in preseason training escape the specter of bad fields. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney explains.
D.C. United and Chivas USA sent out their reserves to play in the Texas Pro Soccer Festival Wednesday night at Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas, after the first teams moved to a better surface to play a scrimmage.
A field recently cleared of debris in Shanghai greeted the Galaxy for its exhibition Wednesday against a combined Shanghai-Hong Kong squad.
But Carlos Ruiz scored all three goals in a 3-0 victory, and David Beckham set up the first goal with a trademark cross.
Beckham left the match in the 70th minute after taking a kick to his right thigh, but his departure was mainly a precautionary move.
On Monday, following a training session at Shanghai Outdoor Stadium, Coach Ruud Gullit had said, "The field is in bad shape. Also dangerous, because stones, bones, shells, everything is on it. It's pretty difficult to play."
Ruiz exploited a disorganized opponent thrown together for just this match to ring up three goals with sharper finishing than he displayed Saturday in a 1-1 tie with FC Seoul in South Korea.
He scored in first-half stoppage time after the Galaxy had dominated play. Alvaro Pires pushed the ball upfield and played it wide for Beckham to chip a ball that Ruiz headed into the net. A small crowd of about 10,000 gave Beckham a tremendous ovation when he left the field with 20 minutes to play.
"I got a kick in my leg in the first half, and I felt it start stiffening up during the second half, so obviously the manager decided to bring me off," Beckham said to Agence-France Press. "It's only precautionary... it's nothing serious."
Rookie right back Sean Franklin, who replaced Chris Klein at halftime, set up the second goal in the 80th minute after playing a one-two with Brandon MacDonald. Ruiz redirected Franklin's low serve just inside the post to make it 2-0. Another rookie, Ely Allen, created the third goal a minute later by opening up the defense on the dribble before laying off a ball for Ruiz to drive into the net.
Keepers Steve Cronin and Josh Wicks split time in goal as Gullit used 16 players, leaving Julian Valentin and Josh Tudela on the bench. A good save by Wicks midway through the second half denied the host team an equalizer.
The Galaxy concludes its Asia tour Sunday against Hong Kong United. The game will be televised live from Hong Kong on Fox Soccer Channel (2 a.m. ET/11 p.m. PT Saturday).