HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Landon Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy wanted to prove something to Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk about the New York Red Bulls over the last month,” Donovan said, “and we wanted to reiterate to people who the best team in the league is.”
Edson Buddle scored his league-leading 13th goal in the 10th minute Saturday night, and the Galaxy made it stand up in a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls that featured the brightest of Major League Soccer’s newly signed stars.
Marquez, the Mexican national team captain, made his MLS debut last Sunday at Chicago. This was first home start for the Red Bulls after he missed Wednesday’s game against Toronto while playing for his national team in Mexico City against Spain.
“I’m not happy at all. I need more time to perform at my best level,” he said through a translator. “It’s hard to know how long it’s going to take.”
Playing a central midfield position until substituted in the 71st minute, he joined Henry, his former Barcelona teammate, and Juan Pablo Angel to give the Red Bulls MLS’s most famous trio. The well-known names, bringing new attention to a league short of drawing cards since it launched in 1996, drew a crowd of 25,000 to Red Bull Arena, the first MLS sellout there since the stadium opened in March.
Los Angeles gained a key win during a shaky stretch. The Galaxy allowed just four goals during an 11-1-3 start, but had given up nine in going 2-2-1 coming in.
The West-leading Galaxy improved their league-best record to 13-3-4, while the Red Bulls, second in the East behind Columbus, dropped to 9-7-4. They have one win, one loss and two draws since Henry made his MLS debut July 31.
“They showed that they were a better team on the day and they deserve to be where they are,” Henry said. “But I think we have good potential, and when this team’s going to be ready, we’re going to be able to compete with them. But we couldn’t compete with them today.”
Already, both teams looked ahead to the Red Bulls’ game at the Galaxy on Sept. 24.
“Obviously, it’s going to take them time to jell,” Donovan said. “You can’t bring in a few new players like that and expect it to just happen overnight.”
Former England captain David Beckham, sidelined since mid-March with a torn Achilles’ tendon, watched from the Galaxy bench. Asked to discuss England coach Fabio Capello’s announcement this week that he was being dropped from the national team because he is 35, the midfielder responded with a one-word answer: “No.”
Buddle scored after Marquez gave the ball away near midfield when whacked in the face. Juninho picked up the ball and passed to Buddle. With Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes chasing unsuccessfully, Buddle slotted a right-footed shot from 10 yards past goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
“It’s a pleasure to play with the great players, as Henry and Angel and Marquez,” Buddle said. “It’s good for people to come to these games and see those great players in person. And for young players, it’s good for them to learn the game that way.”
Two young central defenders who could make the 2014 U.S. World Cup roster were on hand. Los Angeles’ Omar Gonzalez made his national team debut Tuesday against Brazil, and New York’s Ream could be selected soon.
“There’s a lot of young guys coming up now,” Gonzalez said. “It will be interesting to see who will be the next center backs.”
Los Angeles repeatedly knocked down Marquez, and the Galaxy forced Henry and Angel to retreat to the midfield.
“A physical game,” Angel said.
Buddle could have doubled the lead in the 49th after Donovan rounded Coundoul, but with an open net shot wide
Henry nearly pounced on a bad backpass by Gonzalez in the 54th, but goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts ran out and poked the ball away. Referee Mark Geiger allowed a pair of Galaxy defenders to wrestle Henry to the ground in the penalty area without a call.
“I’m not going to talk about the ref, because I don’t want to get in trouble, but I’m sure you saw the same thing that I saw,” Henry said.
Ricketts dived to his right to bat away Angel’s header off Joel Lindpere’s corner kick in the 72nd, then blocked Ream’s short-range rebound attempt.
“You can see the difference in the skill level, the intelligence, the work rate, the positioning,” Donovan said. “You can tell when guys like Henry and Marquez are on the field that they bring something a little different, and they’re going to make our league a lot better.”
NOTES: Three fans ran across the field in the 89th minute and were led off by security. … Galaxy coach Bruce Arena watched from a private box after spending two nights in a hospital with what may be Dengue fever. Associate coach Dave Sarachan and assistant coach Cobi Jones ran the team.
Updated August 14, 2010
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