CONCACAF Champions League: Beckham Leads LA’s 5-2 Rout of Isidro Metapan

LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham created two goals and scored one to guide his team from an early 1-0 deficit to a 5-2 drubbing of visiting El Salvadoran side Isidro Metapan in CONCACAF Champions League group play last night.

Playing without attacker Landon Donovan, the Galaxy nonetheless created plenty of chances and could have won by an even greater margin against a Metapan side that was reportedly shorthanded as well. Four Metapan players, two of them starters, were unable to make the trip due to visa issues, the team said.

Check out the highlights and see if you can tell why Robbie Keane was sent off in the 70th minute:

Looked to us like Keane was booked for what the ref incorrectly believed was a dive, and then, when Keane appeared to request a sub from the LA bench, the official misinterpreted the gesture as something hostile directed at him, and went to his back pocket for the red. Two quick mistakes by the ref, and just like that, Keane is out of the next CCL tilt.

The Galaxy are grouped with Metapan and the Puerto Rico Islanders and must win the group outright to advance to the quarterfinals. See the complete CCL standings here.

CONCACAF Champions League: Toronto FC 5, CD Aguila 1

El Salvadoran side CD Aguila were the consummate guests in their visit to BMO Field last night for their CONCACAF Champions League opener against Toronto FC.

They held the deepest defensive line imaginable, allowing TFC to make themselves comfortable in midfield, and their defenders kept a courteous distance from Reds attackers in the final third, letting them tee up shots at a practice-session pace (see Reggie Lambe’s 48th-minute strike).

It looked like Emily Post designed their game plan, and the lopsided scoreline could have been worse.

Check it out:

Big nights for TFC youngsters Lambe (two goals), Ashtone Morgan (two assists), and Luis Silva (goal, two assists).

Toronto returns to CCL action on Aug 28, when they host Santos Laguna and U.S. international Herculez Gomez.

U.S. 3, El Salvador 3: Highlights

Despite the efforts of their captain Freddy Adu (above), who had two assists, and striker Terrence Boyd, who scored two goals, the United States U-23 team tied El Salvador 3-3 in a game they needed to win to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament.

The result, which eliminates the Americans, came after Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson botched his lines on a seemingly harmless long-range shot by El Salvador’s Jaime Alas in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Boyd—who absorbed a second-half punch to the face that bloodied his nose and went unnoticed by the officials—opened the scoring 61 seconds into the game, and El Salvador answered with two goals in a three-minute span before halftime.

Boyd tied it up in the 64th and Joe Corona gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead in the 69th, setting the stage for Johnson’s last-gasp gaffe.

Highlights here:

Due to club commitments, the U.S. team was missing several players who could have helped—and probably would have joined the team had it qualified for London—including Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler, Josh Gatt, and Alfredo Morales. But this was still a team that should have qualified relatively comfortably.

They had plenty of talent, they fielded multiple players with full-national team experience, and they were playing on U.S. soil (even if Nashville, which drew thousands of Salvadoran fans last night, wasn’t an ideal spot for home-field advantage).

They simply didn’t get the job done, and they’ll look back on their poor defending and very shaky goalkeeping as the main culprits.

World Cup qualifying starts in 43 days. How many of these guys will be a part of it?

“That Was Painful”: One Man’s Running Diary of the Nightmare in Nashville

The U.S. U-23 team lost to tied El Salvador 3-3 in Nashville last night, a result that eliminated them from contention for the 2012 London Summer Games and represents a colossal failure for a team loaded with talent and (allegedly) rising stars.

The manner in which it came—on a glaring, Robert Green–like goalkeeper error in stoppage time—made the loss that much more difficult to take.

Forget that the referee and the linesmen missed a second-half punch by El Salvador’s Alexander Lardin that bloodied the nose of U.S. striker Terrence Boyd (in the El Salvador penalty area, no less), and forget that the crucial tying goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when only four minutes had been posted—this result was on the Americans.

They did battle back impressively from a 2-1 deficit, but their defense was terrible, they lost their poise at key moments, and their goalkeeping was simply awful.

The failure to qualify for the Olympics (for the third time since 1976) is bad enough, but when you consider that NBC—the Olympic broadcaster—launched a new TV deal with MLS this season, and a team stocked with 14 MLSers just failed to beat Canada and El Salvador in succession and will not be appearing in the Games on NBC this summer, it becomes that much worse.

We’ll put up some highlights in the next post, but before then, here is a series of emails we received during the match from Our Man at the Valley, who was watching, and cringing, from a remote location in the Rocky Mountains (kickoff was just past 9:00 pm ET):

9:28 p.m. ET:

1.  Alas is a great name for a misfiring striker. [Remember that name—Ed.]

2.  Nice finish on the goal. [Terrence Boyd from Brek Shea, in the second minute.—Ed.]

3.  Very helpful result with Cuba. [Incredibly, Cuba, which lost to the U.S. and El Salvador by a combined score of 10-0, has tied Canada, meaning the U.S. can win the group with a victory in this game, and El Salvador can do the same with a win or a tie. Group winner likely avoids Mexico in semis.—Ed.]

4.  This game is unlikely to end with 22 players on the field.

9:46 p.m. ET:

5.  We have a really slow left back. [That’s Chivas USA’s Jorge Villafana, who made MLS via a reality TV series. Really.—Ed.]

6.  And a right back with no touch. [Houston Dynamo reserve Kofi Sarkodie.—Ed.]

7.  Announcer is blaming Hamid for equalizer but I don’t think it was his fault. [Defenders. Again. Even though they’ve got several inches in height on opponents, they’re giving up headed goals on a corner.—Ed.]

9:50 p.m. ET:

8.  Caleb Porter should have made that substitution 4 minutes ago. [GK Sean Johnson on for the injured Bill Hamid, after El Salvador scores soft goal to go up 2-1.—Ed.]

10:05 p.m.

9.  Freddy needs a right foot.

10.  If El Salvador sit back like they did in the last 5 minutes of the half we have a slight chance.

11.  Except for that whole counterattacking thing.

12.  Porter should bring Diskerud on. [Ha!—Ed.]

10:28 p.m.:

13.  Color commentator—Alan someone [Hopkins? We have the Mun2 feed.—Ed.]—just suggested 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3 because we are losing midfield. I agree.

14. Glen Davis must have an El Salvadoran girlfriend.

15.  I am taking Bill Hamid out of my MLS fantasy team. May replace him with Jimmy Cuellar.

10:35 p.m.:

16.  Boyd and Adu are the class of this team.

[Goals by Boyd and Joe Corona  put the U.S. back up 3-2.—Ed.]

17.  Really, Adu is the best player on the field. Good thing they allow overage players in this tournament. [Ouch. In U.S. defense, there are four or five other players—U23 players—who would be here if available. Altidore, Gatt, Morales, Chandler….—Ed.]

10:43 p.m.:

18.  If we sit back we’re dead; if we attack we’re in trouble. Should go to 4-4-2 now.

10:59 p.m.:

19.  Shea has looked better over the past 20 minutes. Very poised.

20.  Michael Stephens is on.  He’s on my MLS [fantasy] team! [OMATV is more of an EPL fan than, MLS. But he’s warming up to the domestic league.—Ed.]

11:02 p.m.:

21.  Wow that was painful.

[This email arrived seconds after a speculative 25-yard shot from—yes—Jaime Alas beat U.S. keeper Johnson in the waning moments of the game to tie the score at 3 and eliminate the Americans from the 2012 Olympics. Alas.—Ed.]

U.S. U-23s in Do-Or-Die Clash Tonight

The U.S. U-23 team must beat their counterparts from El Salvador tonight in Nashville (9:00 ET, Universal Sports, Mun2, CONCACAF TV) to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Anything short of a victory and their Olympic dream almost certainly turns to dust (Canada would have to lose to Cuba for the U.S. to advance in that scenario—an extremely unlikely outcome).

If they do win, they stay alive for another round to most likely face Mexico with an Olympic berth on the line.

But first they must defeat El Salvador. Will coach Caleb Porter—who admitted to being surprised and troubled by Canada’s defensive 4-3-2-1 formation in Saturday’s loss—make significant changes to his lineup?

Captain Freddy Adu put some of the blame for Saturday’s upset on fatigue, and since the El Salvador match will be their third game in five days, you’d expect to see some new faces out there tonight.

We’d love to see what Terrence Boyd—or “Terrence Body,” as the commentator on the CONCACAF feed called him—could do with a start.

The same goes for speedy winger Joe Gyau (top) who has added a spark in two cameos already. A midfield featuring Gyau, Joe Benny Corona, and Mix Diskerud should be able to outgun El Salvador—comfortably.

What about at the back? Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara all looked shaky against Canada. Will they bounce back, or will Porter try other options in some of those spots?

Then there’s the psychological element heading into this all-or-nothing encounter. Porter said the team was rattled by Canada’s tactics on Saturday—and they looked  it. Their coach seemed unsettled at being outmaneuvered too.

Some of the players on this team were members of the U-20 team that failed to qualify for the last youth World Cup with a loss on the final day of qualifying. How will they come out for this one? How will they react if something goes wrong early?

We’ll find out tonight.