The Vancouver Whitecaps could not stop David Beckham when they needed to on Wednesday night.
Beckham scored a goal and assisted on another as the LA Galaxy roared back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the Whitecaps 2-2 before a disappointed sellout crowd of 21,000 at BC Place Stadium.
“Anytime you’re 2-0 up and you tie 2-2, it feels like a defeat — that’s obvious,” Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said. “But it was an exciting game, an entertaining game, a fantastic crowd tonight and a great atmosphere.”
Defending champions Galaxy (8-10-3) remain four points behind the fourth-place Whitecaps (8-6-7) in the Western Conference.
“We can’t complain,” LA coach Bruce Arena said. “We’re getting out of town real quick here [yesterday] and not looking back at all. We’re fortunate to get a point.”
Second half substitute Jose Villarreal, 18, secured the tie as he netted his first career Major League Soccer goal in the 87th minute. Beckham launched the play as he lobbed a lead ball to Juninho, who flicked it on to Villarreal.
The Inglewood, California, native, who was playing only his second game after missing most of the season following surgery on both shins, made no mistake as he turned and beat Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon with a high shot.
“They obviously had a lot of play in the first half, and they played well,” Beckham said. “But we were able to capitalize on the hard work that we put in towards the end of the game.”
Beckham and Villarreal scored six minutes apart to cap the successful comeback.
Gershon Koffie and Barry Robson, with his first goal as a Whitecap and 100th of his professional career, scored for the Whitecaps in the first half. The tie spoiled a strong effort from Robson in his home debut after the Scottish international began his tenure with four road games.
Robson, one of Vancouver’s three designated players, sent four shots on goal while taking seven altogether.
“I think after a two-month holiday and coming straight [to Vancouver] and traveling to four different cities in two different countries I did all right,” said Robson, who signed with the Whitecaps in February, but had to complete his season with Middlesbrough in England first.
Robson and Beckham went toe-to-toe at times and argued with each other, especially in the late going. However all was forgiven afterward, Beckham said.
“Obviously, we’re both passionate about the game and both passionate about winning,” Beckham said. “He’s Scottish, I’m English, so there’s always a little bit of fight there. We went at it a little bit. We spoke after and were fine.”
“He’s a terrific footballer and a great ambassador for the game,” Robson said. “A lot of people look up to him, and he’s a nice guy, but on the pitch it doesn’t matter who anybody is. At the end of the day I’m trying to win for my team and he’s trying to win for his.”
A minute after Vancouver’s Koffie hit the crossbar, Beckham put the Galaxy on the scoreboard when he fired in a rebound from the top edge of the penalty box. The goal came after Bryan Gaul’s shot hit the corner of the crossbar and post.