[MLS] Most of the fans had left and so had the Galavision television coverage when Brek Shea floated a cross that wound up in the Galaxy net at
a rain-lashed, nearly deserted Pizza Hut Park Sunday night.
The 88th-minute goal, scored shortly after the teams returned to the field from a storm delay of more than an hour, earned FC Dallas a 2-1 triumph that might have also served as a reminder as to which team represented the Western Conference in MLS Cup last November. The Galaxy, a 3-0 loser to FCD in the Western final last year, equalized with a Landon Donovan goal in the 51st minute, four minutes after teenage Designated Player Fabian Castillo scored his first MLS goal.
FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman turned to Eric Avila to replace playmaker David Ferreira, sidelined with a broken ankle suffered last weekend in a game against Vancouver. Avila, supported by Shea and right mid Marvin Chavez, played 69 minutes in the hole behind Castillo before being replaced by Brazilian Ricardo Villar. The other David, Beckham, lasted 83 minutes, then gave way to Chris Birchall.
Beckham arrived in Dallas Saturday after attending the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London on Friday. He started the game in the middle and floated out to the right wing in the second half as heavy rains slickened the field. A second deluge prompted referee Alex Prus to wave everyone off the field after he received word that lightning strikes had entered the area.
A Beckham chip inadvertently caused an injury to another of FCD’s top players late in the first half. Left back Jair Benitez wrenched his knee when he collided with Donovan as they vied for the chip that keeper Kevin Hartman snagged at the last second. Zach Loyd replaced Benitez, and was beaten to a driven Juninho cross that Donovan poked home at the base of the far post.
Prus cleared the field with about eight minutes left, and upon the resumption of play, Loyd played a ball up the left flank that Shea curled over the head of goalie Donovan Ricketts and just inside the far post for his second goal of the season.
“It was big,” FCD midfielder and captain Daniel Hernandez told mlssoccer.com after the game. “It was one of those games where we just had to dig deep. It was the first game without our MVP. Guys had to step up. We didn't know what kind of performance we'd be able to give, but the most important thing was that we had to figure out a way to win.”
Dallas (3-3-1, 10 points) is in a three-way, fourth-place tie in the Western Conference with Colorado and Portland. The Galaxy (4-2-3) leads the West with 15 points but has played four more games than Real Salt Lake (4-1-0) and one more than Seattle (3-2-3), which are tied for second.