CARSON, California (AP) – Ignoring the pain from a slight stress fracture in his spine, David Beckham spotted the opposing goalkeeper creeping off his line to steal a march on the expected cross into the box from the corner.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder swung in a low-flying, bending delivery that eluded the Chicago Fire 'keeper, the ball bouncing once before nestling inside the net to give the hosts a 2-1 win and extend their Major League Soccer unbeaten streak to 12 matches.
''I saw the goalie cheating a little out of goal and saw a gap,'' Beckham said Saturday. ''I knew if I put it in area, it was going to get a touch off somebody or go straight in. Luckily, it went straight in.''
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was astounded.
''I don't know how that went in,'' he said. ''That's what we pay him the big money for.''
Interim Fire coach Frank Klopas criticized his players for a lack of awareness of Beckham's specific prowess.
''We hurt ourselves with the set pieces,'' Klopas said. ''When you give opportunities to set pieces to the player that is the best in the world at that, we put ourselves at risk. We should have done better with the marking.''
Beckham had earlier crossed for Landon Donovan to score, the seventh goal he's set up this season, the second-most in the MLS.
The dominant performance was all the more remarkable because Beckham has missed the past two matches due to the stress fracture. The former England captain said he was in pain the last few days, but woke up on game day feeling better than he had in a while.
''Personally, it was great. I didn't expect to play 90 minutes. With 25 minutes to go, I seemed to get a second wind,'' said Beckham, adding that it's the second goal that he's scored from a corner in his career.