Galaxy-Seattle: A matter of sides?

AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

The Galaxy's David Beckham, right, says of his first assist off a corner kick: "The ref pointed over to the side where I went." Seattle coach Sigi Schmid says Beckham outsmarted the referee to give himself a more favorable position.

CARSON, Calif. -- It was certainly a frustrating playoff series for Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. The Galaxy's defensive mindset greatly limited what his usually dynamic attack could do, and when chances showed up, the finish left much to be desired.

But the former Galaxy coach, who grew up in L.A. and Torrance, played at Bishop Montgomery High School and played and coached at UCLA, was not in a generous mood after either of the Sounders' losses.

After the first game, in Seattle, he called Edson Buddle's sensational strike in a 1-0 Galaxy victory “fortunate,” dismissing it as a shot in which “he just turns and hits the ball in basically the direction of the goal. It can go anywhere, and it went in.”

After Sunday's loss in another game largely defined by the Galaxy's superb defensive effort over the first hour, he said that he “thought we did more things to ourselves in the first half” than the Galaxy did, then expressed his dismay that referee Baldomero Toledo and his linesmen let the craftier Galaxy get away with gamesmanship.

He's right, in part. L.A. was the craftier side, the more veteran side, just as the Galaxy were in the first leg a week ago. It was the foundation of their defensive superiority and their ability to attack more effectively with fewer chances.

Schmid was especially unhappy with the Galaxy's first goal Sunday, a David Beckham corner kick that floated over three players -- 6-foot-5 Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and Sounders defender Patrick Ianni and forward Blaise Nkufo -- to Buddle, who shook off Tyrone Marshall to nod the ball powerfully past goalkeeper Kasey Keller and into the net.

The goal gave the Galaxy a 2-0 aggregate lead, a huge advantage in the home-and-home, total-goals series.

“Beckham's very clever,” Schmid said. “He's actually too clever for the referees, as well. … [When] they scored the first goal on the first corner, the ball goes out on the [left] side of the field. The corner's supposed to be taken on that side of the field, and Toledo, the referee, has got to make sure it happens there.

“Beckham just picks up the ball and carries it to the [right] side of the field. He's too clever for our own referees; our referees need to be more clever, because the players are more clever than they are.”

What difference does it make which side of the field Beckham takes the corner kick? Schmid says he thinks Beckham is more effective from the right because he's playing “outswinging” crosses -- crosses that curl away from the net and toward players facing the goal.

“We were playing defense on the corners in a certain way, and zoning, and Beckham's a good enough server of the ball and can put it over Nkufo's head, and [Nkufo is] the guy who was zoning in that one space, which worked very well for us in the first game,” Schmid said. The Galaxy's adjustments to that meant that “maybe [Nkufo] needs to drop a step or two. We were trying to get that message out. That's why I was so irate after that first goal, because from the [left] side, I don't think they score, to be honest.”

Beckham's response: He took the corner kick where he was told to do so.

“The ref pointed over to the side where I went,” he said. “To be honest, I wanted to take it over the other side, because I'd taken [three already from the right] side, and we hadn't scored. So I was more than happy to take it to the other side, but the referee told me to go there.”

It was Ianni who put the ball over the end line, chipping it over his goal -- to clear it from danger -- after Eddie Lewis played a nice one-two with Landon Donovan and then sent a low cross in from the left byline. Which side did the ball go out on? Tough to tell. Looked fairly central, and with Ianni leaning to the right side of the goal, Toledo's decision seemed fair.