The New England Revolution were far from playing like a team considered the best in MLS on Monday night, but still achieved the kind of incredibly unlikely result that seems to be characteristic of an MLS Cup contender.
Pulling an absolute rabbit out of the hat was Andy Dorman, who scored his second goal of the season on the last kick of the match. It allowed New England to escape the formidable Home Depot Center with a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy before a sellout crowd, and leave the Revolution still with just a single loss on the season and pull them back into a tie for the Eastern Conference with Chicago -- who have played three more matches.
"We stole a point," New England coach Steve Nicol said. "We had the two best chances in the game and we didn't get anything. We didn't play well. We didn't pass the ball well. The quality wasn't there tonight. But that resilience ..."
Final-moment dramatics are almost customary with New England. The Welsh midfielder scored the Revs' ninth goal in the last 15 minutes window, tops with FC Dallas.
"We've got to stop doing that," striker Taylor Twellman said, smiling.
After conceding the match's opening goal to Galaxy rookie Michael Enfield in the 87th minute -- Enfield's first pro goal in his second MLS match -- Dorman bailed out the Revolution with a cleanup in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
Revs captain Joe Franchino sent a 45-yard free kick from the left into the top of the Galaxy penalty area for Twellman to head toward goal. The ball bounced with Shalrie Joseph getting the slightest of touches in knocking the ball past Galaxy defender Tyrone Marshall.
There stood Dorman inside the six-yard box to guide the ball into the roof of the net past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, out of position because he had to play Joseph for a possible shot.
Afterward, Dorman still couldn't believe how he wound up playing the hero role for the Revolution.
"It was probably the worst game of the season for us," said Dorman, who believed the match had been decided in favor of the Galaxy given the Revolution's inability to create attack.
"That's the thing. Taylor had a header and Hartman had a free kick save (from Jose Cancela in the 89th minute) and that was it. Sometimes you do second guess yourself, but you just keep going until the final whistle, and I'm glad we did. It would be nicer to score right from the start."
A marquee MLS matchup without most of the names that gives a New England-L.A. contest such billing, the match begged for the offensive talents of the Revs' Pat Noonan (eight goals and MLS goal co-leader) and Clint Dempsey (six goals, seven assists), and Galaxy leading scorer Landon Donovan (six goals, four assists).
They comprise three of the top nine goalscorers in MLS. All three, along with the Revolution's Steve Ralston, are on national team duty with the U.S. ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which begins this week.
Not lost on New England, however, was the return of six-goal man Twellman, an invaluable part of Dorman's goal. Twellman was out for a month with a left hamstring strain, yet was able to rise above everyone to win a header after playing 94 minutes with the type of injury that tends to linger.
"I felt like I played 90 minutes thinking about my leg and not the game," Twellman said. "I had a couple chances early. I just had to help the team somehow. I think my huge head is always the target (on set pieces). The key for me is getting it (my hamstring) out of my mind. I felt OK. I always expect to play 90. Was I at full speed? No."
Twellman atoned for a cheeky chip atop the Galaxy area that was tipped away by onrushing Hartman on a 23rd-minute breakaway and a goalmouth header over defender Pablo Chinchilla in the 49th minute that was thwarted by Hartman's block on the run.
New England could not complain with what was essentially a just result, but its winning mentality was evident by their dissatisfaction with their play.
Nicol and Twellman refused to use the absences of their U.S. internationals as an excuse, though offensive creativity and execution of passing must be expected to drop off with lesser players filling in for the likes of Noonan, Dempsey and Ralston.
"We try not to dwell on missing those guys," Twellman said. "We walked in here after the game and felt like we had a loss. It wasn't the best game on my part."
Added Nicol: "We felt confident. There was nothing to suggest we weren't going to pass well. We started the game poorly. There was nothing in any of the teams. As far as passing the ball, both teams did as bad as each other."