Winning big helped soothe any hurt feelings Thursday, with David Beckham and Landon Donovan all smiles as the Los Angeles Galaxy breezed 3-1 over the New York Red Bulls.
Beckham made his return to Major League Soccer at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, N.J., after a five-month turn with AC Milan in Italy.
The British midfielder didn't score, but Donovan, Alecko Eskandarian and Eddie Lewis did in a Galaxy victory over the worst team in the MLS.
"The most important thing is for us to get three points, and tonight we did that in style," said Beckham.
Beckham's presence drew a crowd of 23,238 to Giants Stadium, more than double most New York games this season. But the same venue was packed with over 66,000 fans when he first visited with the Galaxy in 2007.
"Obviously, the first year was impressive," Beckham said. "We're in a recession so, you know, maybe that's part of it."
Penalty kick ends shutout
Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts was not beaten until the 87th minute, when Juan Pablo Angel found the back of the net on a penalty kick.
Beckham played 70 minutes, replaced in the second half by Chris Birchall.
The runup to the game was dominated by talk of the Beckham-Donovan relationship. The American forward makes disparaging comments about Beckham in a new book, questioning the superstar's commitment to the Galaxy.
Beckham said the comments were "unprofessional," and Donovan did express regret over them.
The pair were eager to work together on the pitch, combining on a near-miss in the New York box in the eighth minute. Beckham could not convert a Donovan pass.
The score was already 1-0 by that point, as Eskandarian put one past Red Bulls keeper Danny Cepero in the third minute.
Donovan notched his seventh of the season in the 31st minute with a strike from the right side. The forward moved into a tie with Kenny Cooper of Dallas for fourth on the MLS goals list.
Donovan then crossed to Lewis for the putaway just before the first half wound down.
Beckham and Donovan embraced after the third goal.
"There was never a doubt in our minds that these guys would work together," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. "It was certainly a great moment with all the buildup of the so-called questionable relationship."
The score stayed the same until late in the game, when Angel joined Donovan and Cooper by tallying his seventh of the season.
New York dropped to 2-14-4. The Red Bulls have allowed 1.65 goals per game, a ledger better than only San Jose's.
Coach Juan Carlos Osorio didn't sugarcoat his team's performance.
"I feel sorry and I want to apologize to the fans," he said.
With the win, Los Angeles (6-3-9) at least temporarily leapfrogged Colorado for fourth in the West. The Rapids have played two fewer games than L.A. and will make one up Saturday against D.C. United.
Beckham and the Galaxy will host Milan in an exhibition Sunday. The Galaxy said Thursday that the game at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., is sold out.