In front of a sold-out Red Bull Arena, the two best teams in Major League soccer met Saturday night with the LA Galaxy beating the New York Red Bulls 1-0 behind Edson Buddle’s 13th goal of the season.
With LA manager Bruce Arena watching from a suite after spending two days in a New Jersey hospital, Buddle’s 10th minute strike allowed the Galaxy to extend their lead in the Western Conference to an MLS-best 43 points.
After striking the crossbar in the seventh minute through a Chris Birchall drive, LA would not miss three minutes later.
Galaxy midfielder Juninho won the ball at midfield from Rafael Marquez and played a through pass that split New York central defenders Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes. Buddle raced onto the ball and beat hard charging goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul to put the visitors up 1-0.
After Los Angeles took the early lead, New York would hold the majority of possession but seemed inept at breaking down the Galaxy backline.
The Red Bulls did have a few chances in the first 45 minutes but they came exclusively off set pieces. The best of those came in first-half stoppage time, when a Rafa Márquez free kick from the right side found Juan Pablo Ángel in the box, but the New York striker’s header slammed against the post.
The second half proved equally frustrating for the Red Bulls as the Los Angeles defense held tight and compact. Just a few minutes after the break, Thierry Henry chased down an errant back pass to Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Henry got to the ball first and tried to step around Ricketts but the Los Angeles netminder charged hard and cleared the ball before the Frenchman could make his move.
The Red Bulls had the run of chances in the second half, with the best look coming in the 72nd minute. On a corner kick swung in by Joel Lindpere, Ángel dove to perfectly head the effort, but Ricketts made the diving save. Ream challenged for the rebound but it was blocked off the line.
The Galaxy held tight throughout the second half, their back four conceding space but always clamping down within 30 yards of
LA are now a perfect 13-0-0 when scoring the first goal during the 2010 campaign and hold the best road record in MLS with a 7-2-2 mark away from The Home Depot Center.