MORELIA, Mexico – The LA Galaxy nearly became the third consecutive MLS club to leave Mexico with three points, but two late strikes from Morelia turned LA's one-goal lead into a one-goal deficit as the Mexican side beat the Galaxy 2-1 at Estadio Morelos on Tuesday night.
After Robbie Keane gave the Galaxy an advantage in the 52nd minute, Adrián Aldrete scored an 82nd-minute equalizer following an error from Galaxy 'keeper Josh Saunders, who was otherwise brilliant on the night. Morelia's Miguel Sabah then buried a header off a corner kick in stoppage time to secure the victory.
The result puts Morelia even with the Galaxy on points atop the Group A standings.
While Morelia had the majority of possession in the first half, it was the Galaxy who had the better of chances. Mike Magee broke in on the left side and slipped a ball to Keane on the right side of the penalty area but Keane dived and was not able to reach the ball.
Later in the half, Donovan sent a free kick into the box that Omar Gonzalez got to, but his header bounced off the crossbar and went harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Morelia meanwhile pounded Saunders with shots from all angles and distances. The Galaxy No. 2 was always in a good position to make the save.
It did not take long for the Galaxy to break down Morelia in the second half. In the 52nd minute, Donovan sent a well-placed cross from the left side of the field to Keane. The Irish captain took a touch, knocked it past a defender and raced onto the ball before burying it past Vilar for his second goal in a Galaxy uniform.
After the goal, Morelia took control, slowly turning the screw as the LA defenders began to drop back. By the 80th minute, the Galaxy players seemed uninterested in going foward or too fatigued from the altitude to muster the energy.
In the 81st minute, Joao Rojas broke into the penalty area, fired a shot that deflected off Gonzalez and rolled slowly past Saunders and towards the goal but the ball trickled just wide of the post. It seemed as if the Galaxy would escape with the win.
With just eight minutes to go, though, the Galaxy surrendered the equalizer. Aldrete ripped a 20-yard shot that Saunders was unable to handle cleanly. The ball slipped under him. He lunged at the ball and, although he stopped its roll, his momentum carried it over the line.
Minutes later, the Galaxy nearly had a dramatic winner, as Keane buried a rebound in the 90th minute. But the goal was waved off due to an offside call.
In stoppage time, Sabah found the winner. Manuel Pérez sent a perfect corner kick into the penalty area, and Sabah beat Chad Barrett to the spot and hammered a header into the back of the net.