Second-half substitute Jose Villarreal scored in the 87th minute to give the Los Angeles Galaxy a 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS action Wednesday night.
David Beckham also scored for L.A. in the second half as the Galaxy overcame a 2-0 deficit. Gershon Koffie and Barry Robson scored first-half goals for the Whitecaps.
The defending-champion Galaxy (8-10-3) remain four points back of the Whitecaps (8-6-7) in the race for the fifth place in the Western Conference.
Vancouver had lost its three previous meetings with L.A. by a combined 10-0 score.
Beckham started the play that set up L.A.’s tying goal as he lobbed a lead ball to Juninho, who then tapped the ball on to Villarreal. The 18-year-old made no mistake, quickly putting in a high shot.
Beckham played the roll of spoiler after the sellout crowd of 21,000 greeted him with boos, mixed with a few cheers, the first time he touched the ball.
Koffie opened the scoring in the 17th minute following a turnover by Beckham. Vancouver’s Brazilian striker Camilo blocked the Englishman’s clearing attempt and the ball fell to Koffie. Camilo was knocked down as he ran into a defender, but play continued and Koffie put home a low left-footed shot off L.A. goalkeeper Josh Saunders’ hand.
The goal came moments after Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon caught a dangerous curling Beckham cross into the 18-yard box.
Robson gave the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute as he headed in Young-Pyo Lee’s left-footed cross from the right flank, one of the few times in the Whitecaps’ season-and-a-half MLS existence that they have scored on a header off a set play.
Robson, a designated player, made his home debut after starting his Vancouver tenure with four on the road. According to a Whitecaps spokesman, the goal was the 100th of the Scottish international’s career.
The sequence started when Lee threw the ball in to Dane Richards, who was also making his home debut, after being acquired in a trade from New York for Sebastien Le Toux on Friday. Four minutes after the goal, L.A. coach Bruce Arena replaced defender Todd Dunivant with Bryan Gaul.
The Whitecaps prevented the Galaxy from getting near their net for most of the rest of the first half. L.A. captain Landon Donovan showed his frustration in added time as he booted the ball away in frustration after being called for fouling Lee.
Donovan received a yellow card for the indiscretion.
The Whitecaps were credited with six attempts on goal, compared to three by L.A. in the first 45 minutes.
The Galaxy pressed more in the second half, but still struggled to create chances in the early going. Cannon knocked away another bending Beckham cross, this time from the left flank, in the 55th minute. Three minutes later, Robbie Keane couldn’t find the net as he tried to put home a near-impossible shot while parallel with the goal line.
In the 70th minute, L.A. came close to scoring off a Beckham cross, but Donovan’s header hit the crossbar and Koffie headed the ball away. Cannon denied Beckham nine minutes later as he caught the former Manchester United star’s curling free kick.
However, 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 18-yard box. The goal came after Gaul’s curling shot hit the corner of the crossbar and post.
Robson did the same on a curling free kick from the right flank in the 84th minute. The midfielder was denied again twice in stoppage time as L.A. goalkeeper Saunders caught his shot and then knocked his free kick over the crossbar.
Notes—Vancouver defenders Alain Rochat and DeMerit will be featured in the upcoming edition of the EA Sports FIFA 2013 video game. They will have their movements captured digitally at EA Sports headquarters in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday. ... Vancouver played without injured strikers Eric Hassli (ankle), Omar Salgado (foot), and Atiba Harris (knee), along with midfielder John Thorrington (quadriceps). Harris, who has missed most of the season following surgery, and newly-signed striker Kenny Miller worked out on their own earlier Wednesday. Miller drew a loud ovation from the crowd when he was introduced before the game.