The Los Angeles Galaxy came into Saturday night's game against the MetroStars missing four of their regular starters. The Metrostars came into the contest as one of the hottest teams in MLS, looking for a positive result. In the end, the two sides battled to a 2-2 tie at The Home Depot Center, and for both sides it was a deserved result.
For just the second time this season, the Galaxy were out-shot by their opponents, but still managed to go into the locker room ahead by one goal. Cobi Jones had a hand in both Galaxy goals, which were scored in the first half.
Originally the Galaxy vet was expected to miss the game when he was called into the national team camp for this weeks World Cup qualifiers. At the last minute, national team coach Bruce Arena released the midfielder, and Jones arrived in Los Angeles just in time to guide his mates to the draw.
The MetroStars opened the scoring early on an Abbe Ibrahim goal in the 5th minute, and pressed for a second in the early going. It was actually against the run of play that the Galaxy were able to equalize. Jones drew a penalty kick in the 19th minute, which was converted by Jovan Kirovski.
Following the first Galaxy goal, the momentum started to even out, and both teams created a number of good scoring chances. Then as the half was winding down, Jones scored a goal of his own, lobbing the ball over an onrushing Zach Wells to give the Galaxy the lead at the half.
The Metros were equal to the task and tied the match midway through the second half to earn a share of the points. The result was somewhat disappointing for the Galaxy considering they conceded a second half lead, but considering the number of players the Galaxy were without for the game, a draw was appreciated.
"Some games you just have to be happy to get out of there with a point," said Steve Sampson after the game.
Unlike games in the past, Sampson used defensive subs rather than offensive options in the second half to preserve a result rather than shoot for the win. With third-year man Todd Dunivant as the most experienced MLS player on the Galaxy backline, the Metros went on the attack early and late to test the patchwork L.A. defense.
The greenest player in defense was Troy Roberts, who was making his MLS debut. Right from the opening whistle the Metros focused on him. Sampson tried to alleviate the pressure on his rookie defender by moving him out of the middle, but the Metros countered with a move of their own.
"We switched Troy up with Ugo [Ihemelu] and put him on the right," said Sampson about his lineup adjustment in the second half. "They matched us tactically and put [Amado] Guevara on the left so he could still go at him. I think it's obvious what they were trying to do."
Roberts played well, but he and the rest of the Galaxy defense showed their inexperience at times, and it came back to bite them in the second half.
"I think we made too many mistakes to deserve a win," said Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman. "With that being said I think we did a good job to get a point with all the guys we were missing. We have the utmost confidence in our reserve guys."
The back line should be galvanized by the return of Marshall for next weekends game against Real Salt Lake, in the meantime the Galaxy are content to be able to get points at less than full strength.
According to Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas, the 2-2 draw wasn't the best performance of the season for the Green and Gold, but it was good enough.
"I don't think we played to our standard," he said. "I think it's a mark of a good team though to be able to find a way to get a result, and we did that."
Even though the draw is a move in a positive direction in the standings, FC Dallas keeps on winning, and putting space between themselves and the Galaxy. With a four game road trip in just two weeks looming in the near future, the Galaxy are going to have to get more than just a result against RSL at home next weekend. They're going to have to get a win.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.