CARSON, Calif. – Saturday’s match had all the elements of a dramatic feel-good performance: a desperate final stretch punctuated by a late flurry that resulted in an LA Galaxy goal.
While joyous in the moment, the Galaxy were not in a celebratory mood afterward.
“We’re happy we came away with a point but we’re not satisfied with the result,” LA goalkeeper Bill Gaudette said.
The Galaxy were able to salvage a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas after Pat Noonan buried a stoppage-time equalizer. Brek Shea had put the visitors up in the 61st minute when he converted a penalty kick but Noonan’s goal helped cap off a somewhat desperate final half hour.
GOAL: Noonan levels it late
The result helped extend the Galaxy’s unbeaten run to three matches as the club heads to Seattle for a midweek match.
With LA down a goal, head coach Bruce Arena made three substitutions – Adam Cristman, Chad Barrett and Pat Noonan came into the game to help spark the team's offense. While it took some time, the goal finally came and all three had a hand in it.
Cristman won a ball inside the box, knocking it over to Barrett, who in turn fed Noonan. The veteran bagged his first Galaxy goal, slipping the ball into the back of the net from the top of the penalty area.
Noonan said the three substitutes were just following orders.
“Create some energy, get into some good spots and try to get on the end of some crosses,” Noonan said of his instructions heading into the match. “That’s kind of what it is – you’re throwing guys forward and they have guys they have to bring back so it’s kind of launching balls forward and getting balls in the box and fortunately we got one.”
That the Galaxy did not score earlier, though, was a bit of misfortune. Landon Donovan hit the post in the 11th minute, while FC Dallas ‘keeper Chris Seitz made two critical saves to keep the hosts from going ahead late in the first half.
Early in the second half, though, the Galaxy saw perhaps their best opportunity of the match sail wide when Robbie Keane knocked a penalty kick to the right of the goal. That Keane and not Donovan took the penalty kick was odd – not since June 2007 had a player other than Donovan taken a penalty kick for the club.
“I just told Robbie I wanted him to take it,” Donovan said. “He did everything right except he just mis-hit it a little bit. He’s a guy who’s taken many penalties and made many penalties and I’m sure the next time he takes one it will go in.”
Arena said he was not immediately sure what sort of conversation the two players had on the field before the penalty was taken but said the miss was simply that.
“I'll be honest with you, if any team has the choice of Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan or [David] Beckham taking penalty kicks, you're real happy,” Arena said. “The easiest thing to do in the aftermath is to be critical. ... There aren't many better players in the world to take penalty kicks than Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan. We missed it.”
For his part, Donovan said he wanted Keane to get back on the scoresheet. Keane has not scored a goal since March 31 and although he’s had two assists in that span, Donovan admitted getting Keane a goal would have been a good thing for the club.
“It’s been a little while since those guys have hit the net,” Donovan said. “We’re trying to get them more chances. We’re not doing a good enough job of getting them chances in front of the goal so I thought it would help a little bit.”
Whether it was misfiring, mismanagement or just plain misfortune, the Galaxy overcame the circumstances to earn one point, ensuring that the night was not a complete failure.
“It was sort of one of those nights and we needed one of those to fall our way if we were going to win the game,” Donovan said. “But still a good effort to get something out of it.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.