Galaxy throw away best performance of the season

Chad Barrett protests to Jair Maruffo

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CARSON, Calif. – If there’s further proof needed that the LA Galaxy are indeed snakebit, consider Wednesday’s loss to San Jose as the last bit of evidence.

With what players called their best performance of the season, the Galaxy held a 2-0 lead with 73 minutes gone against San Jose and still found a way to lose.

“It just seems like we can’t get any luck to go our way – a bounce, a call, something,” Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said. “Things aren’t going the way we wanted them to go.”

HIGHLIGHTS: LA 2, SJ 3

San Jose scored three goals in the final 14 minutes to take all three points from Wednesday’s encounter. Hector Jimenez and Mike Magee had given the Galaxy a seemingly solid two-goal edge but Steven Lenhart, Khari Stephenson and Alan Gordon yanked the game away from the Galaxy.

Still, the Galaxy were a bit responsible for letting the momentum shift over San Jose’s side. Jimenez was sent off in the 60th minute, forcing the Galaxy to play the last half hour a man down. Then, the Galaxy were caught on a corner kick, gave away a penalty kick and turned the ball over deep in their own third.

“There’s still no excuse for us to not even get a point out of this game," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "That’s disappointing because it was a really good effort on our part and at 2-0 we were looking good.

“We played awful well tonight not to get something out of this game. It’s a shame. You make your own breaks and tonight we were positioned to get the three points.”

For most of the first hour, the Galaxy played the role of champion. The club was aggressive and in San Jose’s face for most of the match. The ‘Quakes found little space to move the ball in and were unable to threaten Galaxy ‘keeper Brian Perk much.

“For me this is the first game this year that I actually enjoyed playing the first half,” Franklin said. “We battled, we tackled, we were the first to everything – we were great.”

Jimenez though was sent off on the hour when he went into a tackle on Steven Beitashour with his studs up. But even that was not enough to slow the Galaxy down. Magee buried a goal on the counterattack and the Galaxy’s long-last swagger had seemingly been restored.

But the Galaxy gave San Jose life shortly afterward.

“[A] really poor tactical approach on our behalf, shouldn’t get beat on a restart for a goal. It brings them back in the game,” Arena said. “Defending and playing out the game with 10 players we can’t lose the ball on our defensive half.

"We have to play the ball up the field, we have to pull in collectively as a group and defend with our 10 players, play the game out and get the three points and go home.”

Beckham placed part of the blame on referee Jair Marrufo.

“Unfortunately we had someone in control of the game tonight that every time we’ve had him, he always wants to be the star and that’s what happens when you have a referee that wants to be on SportsCenter,” Beckham said. “That was disappointing.”

Protecting leads was something last year’s Galaxy squad did quite well. This year, not so much.

“We just have to learn how to close the game out. Unfortunately we haven’t been on that position enough this year,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “It doesn’t matter if you deserve to win or if you’re the best team on the day. That’s not how this game is won or lost. You have to do the little things the entire game.”

Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at buenodad@gmail.com.