Beckham stars, referee confounds as Galaxy trounce Metapan in CCL opener

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CARSON, Calif.–The LA Galaxy took down Isidro Metapan 5-2 on Thursday night in their opening CONCACAF Champions League match, but the win wasn't nearly as comfortable as the scoreline would suggest.

Despite flurry of second half cards, including the bizarre sending off of captain Robbie Keane, the Galaxy managed to hold off a quick and dangerous Metapan side. More importantly, the two goals LA scored while down a player may prove crucial in goal differential as the group stage progresses.

“It’s crazy that a professional referee would come out and want to take over a game like that,” LA Galaxy Todd Dunivant said after the match. “It’s about the guys on the field, it’s not about the guys in the stripes. It blows your mind when things like that happen. There was a lot of frustration on our part with that, and we’ve got to learn from it and on move on.”

Poor calls aside, David Beckham was the star of the show, setting up two goals and scoring a third directly from a corner kick.

From the opening minutes, the Galaxy attacked Metapan’s defense relentlessly. In the first three minutes, Robbie Keane had two quality chances but was unable to find the back of the net early.

LA kept up their attack, pushing hard to try and break down Metapan’s defense. In the 9th minute, Keane had another opportunity to put the Galaxy on the scoreboard. Beckham played a perfect ball in behind the Metapan backline, but Keane couldn’t control the ball and the chance was wasted.

Despite having the majority of looks on net, it was Metapan who struck first. In the 17th minute, Nicolas Munoz gave them a 1-0 lead over LA.

This seemed to wake the Galaxy up, because just three minutes later Metapan’s defense caved to the pressure LA was putting on them. In the 20th minute, the Galaxy tied it up thanks to an own goal by Metapan’s Jose Alvarado.

LA struck again just two minutes later, when Beckham assisted Keane in the 22nd minute.

Then, in stoppage time right before the half, Beckham curled a corner kick into the back of the net, giving LA a 3-1 lead with 45 minutes to play. A relatively straight-forward first half—but the second half was a far different story.

The craziness began in the 70th minute when Keane made a run at Metapan’s defense. He appeared to be tripped up trying to break through a couple of their defenders, but the referee saw otherwise. Keane was given a yellow for a dive, and the Irishman was not pleased.

He immediately motioned to the bench to coach Bruce Arena, asking to be subbed off. He also appeared to wave his hands, motioning that the he disagreed with the call. The ref immediately pulled out a red card and Keane was sent off for dissent.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Dunivant replied when asked why Keane was sent off. “First he [referee] gives a yellow card for diving, and then compounds that mistake by giving him a red card.”

“It should have been a foul,” Mike Magee said of the dive called on Keane. “The guy [referee] decided he was going to puff his chest out and give Robbie a yellow, and then obviously Robbie didn’t have a great reaction with it. He should have just called the foul in the first place.”

Michael Stephens came on for Beckham, in the 80th minute, and apparently Stephens took too long to come onto the field, and was shown yellow for time wasting.

"I think that may have been the fastest card in the history of soccer,” Stephens said after the match.

But LA would respond to the very questionable calls two minutes later when Stephens made a great run down the flank and found Juninho in the box, who tapped it home. It was 4-1 LA in the 82nd minute.

In the 87th minute, Metapan would get one back when Bryan Gaul was called for a foul in the box and a penalty was awarded. Munoz finished that to make it 4-2.

But LA would add one more in stoppage time, when Juninho got his second of the match.

While there were a lot of wild calls made, it was important to note that the Galaxy didn’t lose composure, and were able to score even when playing with only 10 men.

“It’s all about our character and how we handle it and I thought our team did well,” defender Sean Franklin said after the game. “We got two goals after we were down a man, and we got to do the same thing next week when we play against Puerto Rico. We don’t know how the refs are going to be, we don’t know how the games are going to go. It’s all about adjusting to it and making sure that we do our part.”

Keane will miss the next CONCACAF Champions League match against the Puerto Rico Islanders, but the three points and big scoreline will be important for the Galaxy going forward in the CCL group stages.

“Making a transition into this circus sometimes is unbelievable,” head coach Bruce Arena said of making the switch from MLS play to the CCL. “It’s very difficult on MLS teams. I sometimes wonder why we spend all the resources and time we do in this competition when sometimes it’s looks really bizarre.”

But Arena said there were no excuses to be made—teams should expect this going into CONCACAF matches, and be prepared for it.

LA must quickly refocus and turn their sights to the league match against FC Dallas on Sunday, then switch back to CCL for the Islanders on Thursday.

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55 Responses to Beckham stars, referee confounds as Galaxy trounce Metapan in CCL opener

  1. jeff says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but the refereeing in the champions league is frighteningly incompetent. How do you take a competition like this seriously with refs turning in performances like that? Keane shouldn’t have blown his top but the flurry of cards seriously smacked of match fixing.

  2. KungFuSoccer says:

    This was a fantastic game to attend. Beckham was sublime. There was plenty of energy in the game on both sides showing that both teams care about the competition. The El Salvador team showed lots of skill, but little appreciation for modern soccer. I’m still trying to figure out the Keane situation. It looked like a clear foul, followed by a bad call yellow for simulation, followed by a second yellow for standard Keano complaints about a bad call. Stupid of Keane, but it looked like a terrible call from my angle. I’ll check the highlights with my non-Galaxy tinted glasses when I can.

  3. Dubious says:

    That PK foul by Gaul was horrendous. As he was grabbing his man down to the ground the ball hit him in the back.

    I still question LA’s depth. They cannot play like this against teams like Monterrey and Santos in later rounds and they cannot play like this in the playoffs. Saunders is not the same keeper as he was down the stretch last season.

  4. Dustin says:

    Yet MLS fans constantly talk about how bad MLS refs are. They look better all the time when people watch these games.

  5. Stu says:

    Gol Olympico for the man GB passed up in the Olympics.

    England Football is clueless.

  6. Gus says:

    There is no way a team like LA should be whining about the refs with a big lead at home. They need to get serious about this tournament for a change.

  7. Brendan says:


    Because if the Galaxy had taken the game more seriously Keane would have gotten the foul call?

  8. Dustin says:

    After Gaul ignored the ball totally and dragged down his man he had the audacity to complain about the call.

  9. GalaxyMike says:

    Year after year of atrocious calls going against MLS teams in general and the Galaxy specifically. This is getting absolutely ridiculous.

    This ref compounds his own blown call on Robbie Keane by calling a red? One starts to question the integrity of these calls and the refs.

    It’s time for an MLS team to make a statement and withdraw from the tournament! The pattern of bad refereeing is going to continue unless and until an extreme stand is taken by an MLS team.

    Let’s make a statement that MLS teams won’t take part in the circus known as the CCL until changes are made in the officiating. Just happens to be an all-Mexican reffing unit. How many nations are in CONCACAF? Enough is enough.

  10. Dustin says:

    Yes we should all listen to you, clearly you’ve got the right idea. This obvious hate crime is hurting us immensely. How much longer are we going to be Tortured and Killed by these horrible referees.

    Cut the dramatics, you won handily and if Keane didn’t react like an idiot he would’ve stayed on.

  11. Nave says:

    You’re ridiculous.

  12. Thomas says:

    I thought he absolutely showed up-ed (how do you spell that?) the ref.

    LA better be mentally stronger than that if they want to go far into this tourney.

  13. somedude says:

    Does this ref actually ref the top Mexican League??

  14. Joe+G says:

    Do soccer refs now wear stripes?

  15. Gal says:

    Looked like a pretty obvious dive by Keane to me. No way he was getting through those defenders so he took a dive. This ref didn’t put up with his mouthing off like the MLS refs do

  16. Seriously says:

    You might wanna go watch the replay, Pretty obvious foul. There is clear contact from a hacking defender.

  17. Seriously says:

    It was a pretty clear fould according to replay from the CONCACAF website.

  18. Mug says:

    Watch the replay. He was tripped.

  19. assocfoot says:

    The broadcast showed replays from multiple angles, multiple times. Not a dive. One of the defenders stepped across Keane, and caught one shin before stepping on Keane’s foot. I am not a Keane fan at all, but that was not a dive. The worst you can say was that he was ready to go down when the contact was made, but there was clear contact and a foul, not simulations and a yellow. While I don’t like Keane’s moaning and facial expressions in games at all, I still don’t think the second yellow was justified either. Pained, exasperated looks from star players happen 20X a game, every game, and very rarely earn a yellow. You may not like this, and I may not like this, but it is an extremely unusual call. You usually have to be in a referee’s face or use a magic word or two to get booked for dissent. If you watch the rest of the game, you could see the ref getting in players’ faces for nothing. He definitely had the star ref syndrome in this game.

  20. Joe from El Paso says:

    MLS teams are the biggest threat to Mexican dominance of this tournament. Therefore, it makes sense that Mexican League refs make these type of calls against their hated rivals. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…..Mexican League refs should NOT call games with MLS teams and vice versa!!! That country is corrupt at every level…

  21. FK Pirin says:

    This sort of thing happens all the time in smaller leagues, especially where you have teams from countries with large betting networks. I don’t believe the Ref lost his mind, I believe that he was probably trying to influence the game for betting purposes. These sorts of odd issues have come up in a number of smaller leagues in Europe.

    Soccer is one of the best sports to do this in because the Referee has so much power. Wasn’t this happening in the NBA, also a couple years back? I know there was also a big college scandal for point shaving.

    However, UEFA actually seeks to ferret it out, so there is a task force that monitors betting patterns. I don’t think that exists in CONCACAF, but if it did I bet a lot of these really crazy calls would start to make sense. I remember reading an article about a sandal that shook the Bulgarian League a while back, and a scandal about Champions League qualifiers. I think you can probably google it to see what I mean.

    I doubt this has anything to do with US teams or the US. It just probably has to do with referee intimidation and/or bribery. Both can work depending on the Ref.

  22. AJ says:

    I agree completely. There was contact from the defender, and maybe, Robbie made the most of it. But there was still contact.

    The second yellow was uncalled for, but Robbie could have reacted with a little more maturity in taking the bad call.

  23. Seriously says:

    Robbie could certainly have acted better but to see a second yellow for being upset and NOT directing it at the ref is one of the most bizarre calls I have seen.

  24. Eurosnob says:

    DCU vs Union game was just as confounding as this one. Two disallowed goals, three red cards, refs loosing the control of the game, etc.

  25. Joe says:

    To build on the Keane red card, if he dove, got a yellow for it, and then a red for protesting, how did Metapan end the match with 11? They were guilty of that on multiple occasions. AJDLG cleanly tackled a guy just outside the box in the second half and the Metapan player went down in a heap. No dive there?

    It comes across as a serious issue with bias against US teams. It’s the Sunday League mentality that Yanks can’t and shouldn’t be playing because we (latinos) invented the game. It will never change and only get worse as MLS teams get better.

  26. LA G says:

    Each team should have their biggest rival removed form reffing them. Just one and only one rival though.

  27. Darwin says:

    AJDLG, Junino, Villareal, Jimenez, and Gonzalez all have latino ancestry. Most MLS teams have several latino players, as well as owners and managers. I don’t think your cry for racism is valid.

  28. Good Jeremy says:

    How did he act like an idiot?

  29. Doh! says:

    He’s Irish and Eire is not part of Great Britain?

  30. Doh! says:

    Agree about Saunders but the Galaxy have great depth, you didn’t see the players they had in the AEG Suite.

  31. Doh! says:

    Weird thing is it appeared to be a straight red. If It was a second caution he should have shown yellow again, and then Red. Honestly the whole officiating team was awful.

  32. Doh! says:

    Latins invented soccer huh? Really? I didn’t know that.

  33. Stop the madness says:

    So the game was a joke, the tournament is a joke, why are MLS teams playing in it? Seriously no one cares.

  34. Camjam says:

    Errr David Beckham, not Keane

  35. FK Pirin says:

    It might make sense to just boycott the competition until there is more accountability. I am not sure how much money MLS teams are making on these games? Does anyone know?

  36. yankiboy says:

    Bro, thanks for stepping up so generously and speaking for all of the rest of us.

    Just because you and some people that you may know don’t care, doesn’t translate into some of the rest of us not caring.

    I care. Clearly MLS ownership and board members care.

    The winner of this tournament get a spot in the World Club Championship. MLS investors want to promote their brand(s).

    I’ve been waiting for DC United to get back into this tournament after not qualifying for several years and the runs that Puerto Rico and Montreal made when they were still in the second division were magical until they lost in the semis.

    I like getting a look at other clubs in the region.

    When MLS decides that they really don’t care and clubs or the league declines to participate then maybe I’ll understand your take that “no one cares”.

  37. 99 says:

    says the Superliga exec.

  38. ... says:

    Beckham is the one who scored the Gol Olimpico (a goal scored directly from a corner). Beckham is English. England is part of Great Britain.

  39. couchtoast says:

    No comments about Keane being a big baby and begging out of the game because he didn’t like the refereeing? Waaaaaaaah!!!

  40. JD in FL says:

    No discussion of the multitude of unforced giveaways by the Galaxy? I couldn’t believe the number of crappy passes by LA. Against a high level opponent, they would have been punished. Transitioning from the back looked shaky.

  41. Stop the madness says:

    Does anyone else care?
    I went to the game and went to most of them last year, believe there were not a lot of people there. Plus who evens remembers past winners, unless it was their team? How many people outside of the teams participating watched the final? Maybe I’m wrong but the evidence points to the contry.

  42. yankiboy says:

    I’m not going to discount your personal experience.

    A lot of people who follow MLS don’t watch MLS Cup after their team gets eliminated. Does that mean that they don’t care at all about the season or the playoffs?

    Heck, after my Ravens blew it in the AFC championship game, I was bitter and didn’t watch the Superbowl (of course I know the result–kinda impossible not to living in this country).

    In places like Seattle and Salt Lake, I think that they draw a respectable number for CCL matches (I could be wrong about RSL–I admit to being too lazy to look it up). Not as well as a regular season match but you also have to remember that it is hard to get a lot of people to schlep out to a midweek MLS match. Unless you are in Seattle or Portland.

    Speaking of the Timbers, I bet you if Portland were playing in CCL, they are going to get a large crowd out.

    I just don’t think that things are as simple as you indicate. You’ve got your personal experience that I don’t doubt reflects the views of a lot of people.

    I think that in some markets, CCL and USOC are more valued than others.

    If MLS drops out of those competitions (which I don’t see happening), I think that it would be atep back in the minds of many but I also understand that many people here and on other sites have called for the league to do just that.

  43. HoBo says:

    your as bias as the ref :)

  44. HoBo says:

    +1, I care about it and so do a lot of other people.

    “Stop the madness said..” Are you not a fan of MLS?? don’t you want the MLS to stand above other leagues in the region??

  45. Chupacabra says:

    You are the reason why eyewitness testimony is no longer considered reliable evidence.

  46. LA Dave says:


  47. Subil says:

    How about Freddy Adu to LA? He is just rotting away in Philly. He needs to move to a contending club.

  48. beachbum says:

    BS…both are atrocious. MLS refs deserve the grief they receive, and the CCL refereeing is clearly biased and has been from jump

  49. beachbum says:

    +1. Yes he is

  50. beachbum says:

    and while we’re all at it, we should all not listen to you

    as stupidaly biased as the officiating crew was…congratulations Dustin

  51. beachbum says:

    mentally strong? how about 2 goals while a man down because of ref incompetence?

    strong response mentally from the Galaxy, none more so than Stephens who was ridiculously yellow carded before even entering but then served up the beuatiful assist

    the refs can suck on that

  52. beachbum says:

    Wrong. the only way you saw it that way is if you WANTED to see it that way, like the ref

    it was a disgrace

  53. beachbum says:

    hahaha!!!! good one, and so true

  54. beachbum says:

    I was at the game…I cared :)

  55. beachbum says:

    was at the game. 5 goals when the refs are against you…pretty good response

    Mexican officials are the biggest joke in the region, bar none. They simply cannot be unbiased becasue their hate is so palpable

    a bunch of COWARDS