CARSON -- Sean Franklin scored his first Major League Soccer goal Wednesday night, and it was one to remember -- even if teammates teased him that he wouldn't get credit for it.
Franklin's low blast from a blocked David Beckham free kick sent the Galaxy to a 1-0 triumph over the Columbus Crew at Home Depot Center, extending their league unbeaten streak to 13 games -- and their Western Conference and Supporters' Shield advantages to four points -- with a victory that was a lot tougher than it ought to have been.
The Galaxy (11-2-9) created chance after chance through 16 corner kicks -- just three off the MLS record -- and a handful of free kicks around the box but struggled to beat an organized Crew backline anchored by Riverside's Chad Marshall.
The Galaxy missed their towering target on set pieces, 6-foot-5 defender Omar Gonzalez, who was on the bench but didn't play because of a fractured nose sustained last week in training.
Juan Pablo Angel nearly scored twice, but didn't -- he has only three goals this year, and none in more than a month -- and L.A. was en route to a second straight 0-0 draw before Franklin came through with a 26-yard blast in the 70th minute.
The ball caught Crew midfielder Eric Gehrig on the way in, and so Franklin wasn't sure he'd receive credit. Not after teammates kidded him that the goal wasn't his.
Said Beckham: "I've tried to tell him it's an own goal. But he's not having that."
“I think it might have deflected,” said Franklin, a fourth-year right back from Palmdale and MLS All-Star who has tallied just once before for L.A., in last year's CONCACAF Champions League series with the Puerto Rico Islanders. “They might call it an own goal, but I'm gonna try to claim it as my first goal.
“I'm happy I got it, but I'm more happy that the team played well tonight. We created numerous chances, corners and shots. The whole team effort was great tonight.”
The Galaxy didn't get nearly enough from the set pieces. Two of the 16 corners led to real opportunities, but Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer did well to snare a 30-yard Franklin blast from a 34th-minute corner kick and to hold on under pressure from Todd Dunivant after Angel's header challenged him on the goal line in the 54th.
Miguel Lopez had the best chance before Franklin's goal, a glancing header from 14 yards off a Beckham cross late in the first half that Hesmer leapt to parry around the right post.
“[Columbus] did very well, packed their team in,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “Marshall kind of zoned and attacked every ball. Pretty difficult. The ball we played out to Franklin for the shot off the corner, probably have to do that a little more often or play the short corner, but they were tightly packed in there on corners, and you have the 6-foot-5 guy [Marshall] that has the freedom to attack every service, and he did a pretty good job.”
The game ended sourly, with referee Andrew Chapin giving Beckham a yellow card in stoppage for not taking a free kick. It was the Galaxy star's eighth caution of the season and comes with a one-game suspension -- for the July 30 match at Vancouver -- his second yellow-card ban of the campaign.
A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:
BEST PLAYER: Franklin did far more than score his first league goal -- and nearly net another. He was good in the back, aside from back-to-back plays in the second half in which Tommy Heinemann and Bernardo Anor beat him in the box to create chances, but absolutely devastating going forward. Add in the goal and the first-half chance, and you've got your Man of the Match.
But kudos also for L.A.'s center backs, A.J. DeLaGarza and Gregg Berhalter, who stymied the Crew through the middle all night long, and to goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who did well to corral a tumbling Robbie Rogers shot in the 22nd minute, to halt Anor in the 64th, and handling balls in from the flanks, especially a low Justin Meram cross he played on a short hop near the finish. Marshall was the Crew's best.
BEST GOAL: Franklin's was a fine strike, and, yes, Gehrig got a touch to it, but it was no own goal, no matter what line Beckham was feeding him.
It followed a Beckham free kick from about 26 yards that struck the Crew wall, with the ball rolling slowly out of the box -- a perfect set-up for Franklin, who hit the ball low through traffic and kept it on net.
His first-half shot, from about 30 yards, might have been better -- fiercer, more dangerous in itself, lacking only a deflection to beat Hesmer, who sprawled to make the save.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Beckham's yellow card was a mess, especially with the sanctions. It arrived nearly two minutes into stoppage, with the Galaxy ready to play the ball toward the corner flag to wind time down.
Chapin marked the spot for the kick and the wall 10 yards away with spray paint, then backed off. Emmanuel Ekpo stepped over the 10-yard mark, and Beckham pointed to the Crew midfielder and asked the referee to push him back. Instead Chapin pulled the yellow card and showed it to Beckham.
“I think probably a poor judgment in how to handle a game at the end,” Arena said. “If you're going to mark the field, then you've got to honor what you're marking. ... If there's ever [a yellow card] that should be rescinded -- or at least make the referee pay the fine ... it makes zero sense. And the best way to manage that is say here's the mark, step off, or if you have to, add five seconds to the game. It absolutely makes no sense. Makes no sense at all.”
Beckham wasn't pleased.
“It's frustrating, because I don't want to miss games,” he said. “And it's in the rules. If you spray the line, the players have to be behind it. ... So whether that can be changed, whether it can be looked at and there could be some appeal -- I don't know whether that's possible -- it's just another bad call from the referee.”
WORTH NOTING: Landon Donovan is now No. 2 on the MLS scoring chart, tied with FC Dallas' Brek Shea, who netted his ninth in the Hoops' 1-0 victory over Toronto FC. New York's Thierry Henry scored his 10th in New York's 4-1 loss to Colorado. ... Angel's left Achilles was stepped on late in the game, and he was forced to exit. No word yet on whether it will force him to miss some time. ... Columbus DP Andres Mendoza suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury before the game was two minutes old and was quickly subbed out. ... Arena said he expected Gonzalez to play some minutes Saturday against Manchester City. ... Teen forward Jack McBean also was on the game roster, his first appearance in the first-team 18. ... Defender Frankie Hejduk, out more than a month because of ankle inflammation, said he'd be back in training next week. ... Real Madrid, the Galaxy's foe last weekend, routed Guadalajara, 3-0, in San Diego as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “It's frustrating [to score just once], but we can say we had 16 corners and we've got chances,” Beckham said. “But they had a couple of big guys, and, unfortunately when you have big guys in the middle like that, it's hard for our players to find space and get on the end of it. We created enough chances to win the game tonight, and I think we deserved to win the game in the end, but it was a tough night.”
NEXT: Sunday in a friendly vs. Manchester City FC (England) at Home Depot Center, 1 p.m. (ESPN and ESPN Deportes). Next league game: Saturday, July 30 at Vancouver, 4:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 1, Columbus Crew 0
LA -- Sean Franklin 70
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant; Jovan Kirovski (Michael Stephens, 83), David Beckham, Juninho, Landon Donovan; Juan Pablo Angel (Bryan Jordan, 85), Miguel Lopez (Mike Magee, 69). Unused subs: Hector Jimenez, Omar Gonzalez, Jack McBean, Brian Perk.
Columbus Crew: Will Hesmer; Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner (Jeff Cunningham, 88); Eddie Gaven, Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram, 75), Emmanuel Ekpo, Eric Gehrig; Robbie Rogers; Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann, 4).
Yellow cards: Berhalter 16, James 65, Juninho 85, Beckham 92+.
Referee: Andrew Chapin. Att.: 24,709.