Many feel the Galaxy's Landon Donovan should have been awarded two penalty kicks against the Timbers. (LA Galaxy Twitter)
In their first home game in nearly a month, the Los Angeles Galaxy battled the Portland Timbers in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 Friday night at StubHub Center. Both sides led in an action-filled second half, but ultimately had to settle for a 2-2 draw after an own goal at the 86th minute by Portland defender Rauwshan McKenzie.
“Hard game, I think we were sloppy throughout the game, the effort was not consistent over the 90 minutes,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “For us to have that kind of energy in the last 15 minutes to get an equalizer and not have that energy for the entire game is a little disappointing. I think we lost our concentration a little bit, we did a real sloppy job in defending on a couple of crosses that cost us goals and to their credit they did a good job.”
Robbie Rogers started at left back again for the Galaxy and played a major role offensively on several occasions due to the Galaxy’s dominance early on. Robbie Keane had the first opportunity of the game after controlling a long pass from the backfield, but Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts did a fine job in coming out of his net, denying the Irishman from inside the box. Gyasi Zardes’ only major contribution on offense came at the 15th minute, when his curling shot from the left side of the box froze Ricketts, but bounced off the post and fortuitously away from danger for the Timbers.
The game became a back-and-forth affair in the early stages of the second half, which made for a fast-paced match, but both teams lacked offensive clarity in the final third of the field. The Galaxy’s offensive dominance paid dividends at the 65th minute, when Marcelo Sarvas put a right-footed shot from the inside of the box past Ricketts to give the Galaxy the lead after receiving a brilliant chip pass from Landon Donovan.
It took the Timbers only one minute to erase the deficit via the right foot of Diego Valeri. The unmarked Argentine blasted a shot past a helpless Jaime Penedo after the Galaxy defense failed to clear a Timbers cross.
“I saw that [Fanendo] Adi was going to bring it down, and I was already thinking of taking a hard strike at it,” Valeri said. “I was lucky that the ball headed towards the goal because sometimes those kicks go high, but I wanted to hit it just right and was lucky that it went in.”
The Galaxy defense continued their sloppy play, and just two minutes later, former Chivas USA midfielder Jorge Villafaña hammered home the second goal from the Timbers after another failed clearance by the Galaxy defense.
Donovan went down inside the box on a fast break at the 74th minute after he appeared to have been tangled with Portland defender Danny O’Rourke, but referee Jair Marrufo decided the contact inside the box was incidental.
“I might be a little biased, but I clearly think the first one I got in front of O’Rourke and he hit my leg and I went down, but that was one of those where I thought for sure it was going to be a penalty,” said Donovan about the referees’ non-call and free kick call late in the game. “At the end of the day, if the ref doesn’t see it then he doesn’t see it. The second one, it’s close and I don’t know if it’s in the box or out, I think it’s right on the line.”
Diego Chara was booked for taking Donovan down just inches outside the 18-yard box at the 77th minute. Juninho nearly capitalized with a curled shot over the net, but lacked the precision to beat Ricketts, who was able to punch the dangerous shot away for a Galaxy corner kick.
Substitute Baggio Husidic failed to tie the game for the Galaxy at the 85th minute on a wide open half-volley that sailed well over the Timbers net. Husidic redeemed himself less than one minute later after centering a pass from the left side of the six-yard box that bounced off McKenzie and into the net.
The tie drops the Galaxy into sixth place in the Western Conference standings, but with several games in hand on most teams.
The Galaxy host Real Salt Lake next Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. at StubHub Center.