CCL: Inconsistent officiating paints familiar picture for LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy went down to Costa Rica and beat Herediano in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals last week – not that the scoreboard showed it.

Mike Magee's 67th-minute strike should have counted for LA, but Jamaican linesman Kedlee Powell's errant offside flag wiped it away, and the Galaxy settled for a 0-0 draw.

It might have been more aggravating for the Galaxy were it not such a common occurrence. The goal was their third in the last two Champions League competitions to be waved off by an offside flag that had no business being raised.

“These are the things we've experienced in this sort of competition,” Bruce Arena said following training Monday, two days before the Galaxy's home leg at the Home Depot Center. “It's life. It's not the first time a player has been ruled offside when he scores a goal in any competition. I think the linesman has to be in better position on those plays. He didn't do well there.”

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Robbie Keane's 90th-minute, go-ahead goal at Morelia in September 2011 was canceled by a phantom offside call, and the Mexicans pulled out a 2-1 victory in stoppage time. Magee scored a goal that was waved off in last year's quarterfinal second leg against Toronto at The Home Depot Center, a 2-1 defeat that eliminated the Galaxy from the competition.

Magee's goal Thursday was clearly onside, replays indicated.

“I knew I was onside,” Magee said. “You could tell by my reaction. ... Same game last year, I had a goal disallowed, one I wasn't offside, so I was expecting that.”

Inconsistent officiating is part of what defines the Champions League, and the Galaxy have plenty of experience with that. A second call nearly cost them a draw at Herediano. Referee Courtney Campbell, lenient from start almost to the finish, awarded Ismael Gómez's tumble in the closing minutes – from the slightest contact by Sean Franklin – with a penalty kick.

“Didn't look like a penalty,” Arena said. “A game where the referee allowed contact the entire game, and that play was probably the least bit of contact the entire game, and he calls a penalty kick on it. So it's inconsistent. I think the referee had a good game, but the judgment on a referee is to be consistent and to get those kind of calls right. In that regard, I don't think it was good.”

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Gómez smashed the spot kick into the crossbar, and LA escaped with a draw.

Magee said his initial reaction was “they're not going to score, it wouldn't have been just, and when we were in the shower after the game, I think about eight of us all said the same thing.”

“[Campbell] let everything go, which was actually great,” he added. “I thought the referee was fantastic, and then to do that was out of character, how he had been, but that ball was never going in. The soccer god just couldn't have let it. There's no way. More and more when you get that gut feeling that something was completely unjust, it tends to come back.

“I feel like even if that somehow would have gone in, he would have given us a PK at the other end. You just get that feeling, you know?"