The L.A. Galaxy gave the PH Azkals a lesson in championship football while at the same time giving the Filipino football fans a thrill at the Rizal Memorial Stadium Saturday night. The Major League Soccer Cup champions LA Galaxy defeated the Azkals with a score of 6-1. A big 5 point gap, note that 5 pts. is already big considering that in football, players rarely scores.
According to ABS-CBN News, the LA Galaxy showcased strong passing, especially in the midfield, but the Azkals kept in step with the champions in the first half.
The Azkals were able to threaten the Galaxy defense numerous times, with Phil Younghusband and Chieffy Caligdong both having misses early in the first half.
A capacity crowd at the Rizal Memorial went wild as superstar David Beckham broke ice in the 20th minute, scoring on a cross that went past the outstretched arms of PH goal keeper Edward Sacapano.
Another goal by Mike MaGee gave the Galaxy a 2-nil lead in the 38th minute, sending the crowd into a new frenzy.
But Younghusband finally broke through in the 46th minute, allowing the Azkals to get on board, 2-1.
Carly de Murga had a chance to equalize for the Azkals late in the first half, but his shot just missed the target, allowing the Galaxy to go into halftime with the 1-goal lead.
The second half had turned into a goal-fest for the LA Galaxy, as Adam Cristman scored twice (62nd and 87th minute), and Robbie Keane (46th minute) and Greg Belhalter scored another 1 goal via a penalty kick.
Ian Araneta had a chance to give the Azkals another goal, but was tackled by a Galaxy defender before he could make the attempt.
Both Bruce Arena of the LA Galaxy and Michael Weiss of the Azkals substitute numerous times during the game, as the coaches aimed to give playing time to as many players as possible.
For Weiss, it was a tale of two halves, as the Azkals were highly impressive in the first half, and came close to scoring many times. But the second half was an entirely different matter as the Galaxy took control of the game, showing their superior conditioning.
Weiss expressed his disappointment with his players' effort in the second half, as the Azkals seemingly lost focus while the Galaxy pushed the pace of the game.
"If you lose concentration against a team like LA Galaxy, you will get punished," Weiss said.
Younghusband and Caligdong both said that the experience was a lesson for them, especially for the upcoming AFC Challenge cup in January.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy players, especially Beckham and Landon Donovan, expressed their thanks to the Filipinos for their hospitality.
"Its been fantastic," Donovan said.
Both players said they would like to return to the Philippines, with head coach Arena also complimenting Caligdong, Younghusband, and Angel Guirado for their strong play in the game.
When David Beckham was asked what he would tell the Azkals to help them improve, he replied: "I don't need to tell them anything, they did well tonight. The score doesn't reflect the game."
Phil Younghusband was elated about scoring a goal in the same game as his childhood hero: "During the game you don't think much about who you're scoring against as the goal put us back in the game but afterwards you realize the significance."
While praising the Philippine Azkals for their talent and spirit, LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said the MLS champion's stamina and style of play eventually won out.
"The Filipinos played a good game in the first half but we wore them out in the second half because of our fast pace," Arena said after the friendly match in a nearly-packed Manila stadium.
"We lost our concentration and we lacked conditioning," the Azkals' German coach Michael Weiss said.
Some 10,000 people showed up for the game in a country where football has been deeply overshadowed by the national past time basketball, eager to set eyes on Beckham.
The LA Galaxy departs on Sunday for Australia for the last leg of their Asian tour.