Tacoma-slash-Federal Way’s Ciaran O’Brien was sent off in his professional debut Saturday night after a strange clash with Los Angeles Galaxy stars Carlos Ruiz and Landon Donovan.
O’Brien came on as a substitute in the 71st minute and was seeing out the Rapids’ impressive 4-0 win when, in the 90th minute, things got weird. He made a clumsy sliding challenge on Ruiz, who went down clutching his knee.
Donovan ran in and pushed O’Brien in the chest and put a hand to the rookie’s throat before other players intervened and separated the two.
As medics came on to stretcher Ruiz off the pitch, referee Abby Okulaja sent off O’Brien for serious foul play. No sanction for Donovan, the international star and America’s all-time leading scorer.
O’Brien was also in the middle of another strange turn in the match just a few minutes earlier. Galaxy defender Abel Xavier, already on a yellow card for dissent, sent O’Brien sprawling with a lunging tackle from behind.
As Okulaja moved in to deal with the foul, Xavier went bonkers and the referee sent him off for abusive language.
OK, that’s the last time we’ll ever believe anything posted on the Colorado Rapids web site. O’Brien is NOT in the first XI, as previously posted — Rapids site being the source.
That said, UW’s Ely Allen from Kent is in the Galaxy starting lineup. Good on him. We’ll go ahead and give this live-blogging a try anyhow. Who knows, maybe Ciaran will come on as a substitute.
Looks like a full house for the opener. Lots La Bombanera-style confetti all over the place.
First real action, 3rd minute, left mid Colin Clark gets behind the Galaxy right back but fluffs his cross behind the goal.
Minute 7: El Pescadito gets his first sniff on a long ball from Beckham but rolls it easily to the Rapids’ keeper.
Minute 10: Beckham is set up in the middle of the park, not up front like the Fox Soccer Channel said at the start of the show. Galaxy Portuguese shock-haired defender Abel Xavier commits a
Minute 11: GOAL! Christian Gomez hits the post from s player hits from five yards beyond the D, but the Rapids’ unmarked Terry Cooke smashes it into the back of the net from about 16 yards. An Englishman scores the first goal of the match, and it’s not Beckham.
Minute 18: Nothing all that sexy from Ruud Gullit’s men so far. Now Becks hits his first true cross of the match, but it’s easily caught by Rapids GK Bouna Coundoul.
Minute 22: Clark comes up limping from a zesty challenge near the touchline. The TV guys are saying he passed a late fitness test to get into this match. … And now, there’s a bit of an easy fall and Beckham gets a free kick out wide. Coundoul is there again and delivers a great outlet. The Rapids attackers — including Clark — get in each other’s way and the threat peters out.
Minute 26: Coundoul again comes out to beat Donovan to a ball into the penalty area. He’s a lively keeper. Leads though to another Galaxy free kick from wide, about 45 yards from goal. Somehow it gets all the way through the mob to Donovan at the far post, but he bloops it and that man Coundoul gets it again.
Minute 28: Yet another free kick deep for the Galaxy, and Beckham looks like he’s walking in the mortars. This ball gets close to Ruiz right in front of the Rapids goal but a defender is there to nick it away. El Pescadito is no relation to our man Don Ruiz, in case you wanted to know.
Minute 34: More long-range indirect fire from Beckham, this time a long laser from deep in his own half to Donovan and Ruiz streaking into the penalty area. But Coundoul is brave again — and now he’s down. Might be short a tooth or two. But he’s up and looks like he’ll continue, if not a little worse for wear.
Minute 37: As goofy as he is, Max Bretos does a nice job. And now here’s Colin Clark bursting some 45 yards to just miss connecting with a cross on a Rapids counter. A step slow.
Minute 41: Now the fouls seem to be going the Rapids’ way. Maybe it’s because the ref doesn’t like players named Pires — and who can blame him? Rapids are figuring out that they can’t just stand there and watch when Beckham comes deep to collect the ball, then turns to survey the field and aim the next artillery strike.
Minute 44: Yeah, we’re usually good for a laugh with Bretos. Christopher Sullivan isn’t bad either, although he says “utilize” and “orientated” too much (i.e. ever). Ex-Liverpool psycho Abel Xavier saves the Galaxy from two down. And at the other end, Donovan is denied by Man of the Match (so far) Coundoul.
First half stoppage time: Beckham again looks for Ruiz, another nice ball, but Ruiz comes in hi karate style on Coundoul, and the referee gives it. And now it’s halftime. Coundoul is a stud, no two ways about it.
Halftime: Rapids 1, Galaxy 0. Full house in Colorado, naturally, for the Beckham visit. But the crowd seems a little quiet, at least on TV. Especially with their side up. Let’s hope all those Emerald City yahoos can make some more noise than this at Qwest next season.
Minute 46: Strike that. Ely Allen is off, and to be honest FSC is doing kind of a crappy job reporting the changes. Him and Pete Vagenas have given way for two replacements who I must admit I just don’t know. Great to see Allen get the start; he wasn’t much of a factor.
50th minute: And in his first action, Alan Gordon (on for Allen) scythes down Christian Gomez and he is lucky to only see yellow. Nice start.
54th minute: The other Galaxy substitute, Brandon McDonald, gets an opponent’s ankle. No booking though.
Our blogging software here at the Good Ship TNT is not much fun for this. Caching issues with Firefox, I think. Switching to Safari. Bear with us. …
Minute 58: Nothing much happening and then penalty! Abel Xavier brings down Cummings just outside the goal area and the ref points to the spot. Xavier, surprisingly, comes unplugged and eventually gets a caution from the overpatient referee. And Gomez buries the penalty.
Rapids 2, Galaxy 0.
Minute 61: Coundoul beats Gordon to a quick through ball in the Rapids penalty area, the ball quickly gets down to Cummings at the other end of the field and as he’s turning on goal the screen goes blank… Not once, but twice. Satellite problems beaming in the picture all the way from Denver, no doubt. Denver, Baghdad, Antarctica, some of your tougher remote broadcast locations.
Minute 67: Rapids make their first substitution and it’s not Ciaran. MLS all-name teamer Herculez Gomez comes on for the goal-scorer Cummings. And now Max Bretos is noting, “not to make any excuses,” how Beckham and Donovan played in internationals at midweek.
Minute 70: O’Brien is waiting at midfield to come on for Gomez. The ex-DC United man has been impressive in his debut for his new team.
Minute 72: Herculez gets booked for mushing Alvaro Pires to the deck. And then Herculez gets held by Greg Vanney for another yellow… And O’Brien comes in strong and flies around a bit. 253 in the place!
Minute 75: Max is riffing on the name thing, and says he’s for Emerald City FC. Concedes maybe he’s the only one who thinks so. Yes, Max, that’s right. … Meantime Christopher big ups for the O’Brien clan — Fran and Leighton — and Max notes the number of Pac NW players in the MLS these days. Props.
Minute 78: O’Brien tries a hard driven cross but it’s straight to the goalkeeper. Here he is on the ball again, playing it correctly from middle out to the right, and then running back over to collect it again to hold and settle.
And then, minute 80: GOLAZZO for Colin Clark. Gets the ball out wide on the left, runs at and beats Abel Xavier, Pires and the GK. Too easy. Rapids 4, Galaxy 0.
At this rate, let’s hope Landon decides to give Europe another try.
Minute 82: Another couple of touches for Ciaran. Gives the ball away. You know homes has got to be a little nervous. … Now he gets stuck in near the touchline and takes a little swipe from a Galaxian, the second time since he’s been on (Vanney took a poke at him earlier). … And then he’s on the far post and and open for the fifth, but the ball floats beyond him.
Minute 88: Beckham touches the ball for the first time that I can remember in the last several minutes. The Galaxy just aren’t any good.
Minute 89: What a weird turn of events. Ciaran gets around Xavier to a little through ball and the fright-wigged former Portuguese international brings him down from behind. Referee Abby Okulaja runs to the scene because it looks like a second yellow for Xavier, and Xavier hops up and gets in the ref’s grill and makes the job easy for Okulaja. Red for Xavier.
And then just a minute later, Carlos Ruiz has the ball running toward the Rapids penalty area. He survives a challenge with a defender, then Ciaran comes in and tries to win the ball with a sliding challenge. He gets Ruiz’ knee instead.
Enforcer Donovan takes exception and runs up and pushes O’Brien in the chest and puts a hand (briefly) to the rookie’s throat. Then others intervene and the whole thing becomes handbags.
Ruiz writhes in agony (he is stretchered off, but to be honest, it’s hard to see if he was really hurt).
And then Okulaja shows red to O’Brien!
Nothing for Donovan, who initiated the fracas by running several yards and jumping up in Ciaran’s face.
And then the final whistle.
What a debut for O’Brien.