Beckham, Galaxy lose in first game at Pan Pacific
HONOLULU -- Bare scored an early goal and the short-handed Gamba Osaka defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in the opener of the inaugural Pan-Pacific Championship exhibition tournament on Wednesday night.
Osaka advanced to Saturday's final to play the two-time MLS champion Houston Dynamo, which beat Sydney FC 3-0 in the late game Wednesday behind two goals set up by island native Brian Ching. Sydney will face Los Angeles in the third-place match.
Bare momentarily broke free and scored in the third minute from 12 yards from the left side. The Brazilian forward finished second in the J. League last year with 20 goals.
David Beckham, who was supposed to only play 30 minutes, played the entire match for the Galaxy, but didn't see the ball much in the first half and drifted to the right back position late.
"The first 15 minutes, we were terrible and they capitalized on the first breakthrough," he said. "The second was a lot, lot better. We started playing football. We started playing with confidence. We started defending a lot better. We created chances. But you don't get any thing unless you put them away."
Gamba, who had been in Honolulu training for two weeks, tried to add to their lead in the 10th minute, but the header by Satoshi Yamaguchi bounced off the crossbar.
The Japanese team controlled much of the first half, breaking down Los Angeles' defense. Their scrappy defense flustered the Galaxy.
New Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit said he was pleased with his team's performance, despite the loss. He said the slow start was just getting used to the artificial turf, and each other.
"We haven't found yet what system to play," he said. "We know the principles of the game. But how we want to play is still a puzzle."
The turf made the ball difficult to control, causing it to skip and bounce high.
In the 36th minute, Shu Kurata's shot from 10 yards was partially blocked by Steve Cronin. Kurata continued after the rebound and his second attempt was cleared off the line by Troy Roberts.
Cronin's diving block saved another potential goal by Bare just before halftime.
Bare said the younger players stepped in and performed well.
"We knew we had to play with a lot of strength going in," he said.
Both teams used makeshift lineups.
Osaka was without seven key players who were playing for Japanese national teams, six of whom were to play in the upcoming East Asian Football Championship featuring Japan, the two Koreas and China.
Besides Beckham, Los Angeles didn't have many of its other stars and went with an untested lineup. Landon Donovan sat out with tendinitis in his right knee and wasn't expected to play Saturday. Carlos Ruiz was recovering from knee surgery. Celestine Babayaro, the Galaxy's big offseason acquisition, wasn't in the lineup, still awaiting his work visa.
Donovan said his right knee, which had been bothering him for the past month, worsened in the past few days.
Los Angeles had better possession and created chances in the second half, but never really troubled goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya.
Flashbulbs sparkled every time Beckham got near the ball, waved his arm or faced the crowd. He exchanged a few words with Osaka's Lucas during the match and later knocked him to the ground with a shoulder charge.
"It's nice to be back on the field playing again," Beckham said. "It's our first game preseason. We're still trying to get our fitness."
In the nightcap, Houston scored twice within a minute and dominated possession, rarely allowing Sydney FC any possession in the offensive third.
Ching dispossesed Ryan Walsh and sent the ball across to Dwayne DeRosario, who sent it into the left side of the netting from 25 yards in the 27th minute. DeRosario had put one off the bar from the same distance earlier.
A minute later, Stuart Holden took a pass from DeRosario and turned at the edge of the 6-yard box to score just inside the near post.
Chris Wondolowski scored Houston's third goal of the first half in the 43rd minute. He took a pass from Ching and made a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area.
Sydney finished third in the A-League, which finished Sunday. The Dynamo, meanwhile, play their first competitive match March 12 against Municipal of Guatemala.
Despite having the world's biggest soccer star, the 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium was mostly empty, with 15,128 in attendance. It was in stark contrast to the sellout at the Pro Bowl just 10 days ago.