The Los Angeles Galaxy are now winless in their last five games following a 1-1 draw at home on Monday night against the New England Revolution. It wasn't the tie that was so disappointing, but rather the manner in which it came.
The Fourth of July spectacular game was really devoid of any real emotion or excitement for nearly 85 minutes. Neither team had the benefit of a full complement of players: the Revolution were without three regular starters, while the Galaxy were missing five.
The pieced together lineups showed their inexperience throughout the game, as each side combined for only a handful of quality chances at goal.
The usual suspects played their part for both teams. Matt Reis was rock-solid in the New England goal, while his Los Angeles counterpart, Kevin Hartman, was nothing short of superhuman on several key saves in the game.
It was a handful of Galaxy second team players that surprised most though. Ned Grabavoy made an unusual start and played well, arguably the most consistent player on the field for Steve Sampson on the night.
Then a pair of second half subs came on and nearly played the role of hero for Sampson. Herculez Gomez recorded his first MLS assist on a perfect ball played into Michael Enfield, whose diving header earned the young forward his first career goal.
"There's no better experience than scoring a goal," said Enfield of his 87th-minute strike. "It could have been a game winner."
The celebration of the accomplishments was short lived however, when deep into stoppage time, the Revolution literally stole the win and a share of the points away from the Galaxy.
"It could have been very special tonight. It could have been very special for the Galaxy to have beaten the Revolution," Sampson said. "One lapse of concentration, one mistake, and we tie the match. We can't continue to make silly mistakes in the back. It's a very disappointing evening for us."
Disappointment will quickly turn into desperation if the Galaxy can't find a way to turn things around. The chasing pack is closing ground, and the front runners are pulling away in the standings.
There were a few bright spots though. With the number of players that will be missing over the course of the next month, some reserves stepped up and showed they could fill the void, none more than Grabavoy.
"I think Ned Grabavoy, for not having played with the first team, gave us a sense of rhythm, a sense of pause in the midfield," said Sampson. "I think Alan Gordon, who made his first start for this team, did some great stuff for us tonight and just ran out of gas."
Still, the bright spots were more than overshadowed by a momentary defensive lapse on the back line. It's been a common theme though all season in Los Angeles, and it's something that the Galaxy are still trying to address.
"To see a goal go in in the 94th minute is unexpected. We tried to battle as best we could. We shut them out for a good percentage of the game," said Hartman. "Unfortunately we weren't able to defend the final free kick well enough. They were able to win the first ball the second ball and the third ball. Obviously we have issues in defending free kicks, and we'll have to continue to work on that."
The road doesn't get any easier either -- literally. The Galaxy's next game is away at the MetroStars, and so far this season, the Galaxy have managed just one point away from The Home Depot Center.
To make things even more difficult, Tyrone Marshall will be leaving for national team duty with Jamaica, leaving the Galaxy with just four available defenders for next week's game. Guillermo Ramirez will also be leaving, to join up with Guatemala, as the CONCACAF Gold Cup gets underway this week.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.