CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy have made a habit of giving away points at the end of games this season, so they were ecstatic when they picked up three at the finish Thursday night, pulling out a 2-1 victory over the visiting Columbus Crew with a pair of late penalty kicks.
It served as a balm of sorts for a team still reeling from last weekend's disaster against San Jose, in which they dominated the action, took a two-goal lead, then conceded three late goals -- two of them in stoppage -- to fall, 3-2.
“I think that football gives and football takes away,” said goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. “We lost a crazy game on Saturday, and we won one in the same way today. Although today was really deserved. I mean, we created so many chances, and, unfortunately, we make it a bit difficult for ourselves.”
The Galaxy (8-7-3) took 23 shots and created more than a dozen chances but were staring at defeat after Bernardo Anor's looping header found the upper-right corner in the 78th minute. LA overcame only with help from referee Sorin Stoica, who awarded them spot kicks that Robbie Keane converted in the 85th and 92nd minutes.
“Several times this season I think we've played great games, but have let it up late or things just don't go our way,” defender Omar Gonzalez said. “Tonight maybe the second PK wasn't such a great call, but, hey, they went in our favor, and I can't ask for anything more than that. It was a great call by the referee.”
Jose Villarreal, who went down after seeking contact from Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum after a Marcelo Sarvas through ball for the first penalty, said he “felt his hands trip my feet” but acknowledged his run was one of “those cheeky things in your pocket” as a forward. “Happy it worked here with this keeper, and we got the penalty.”
Keane went down when he was hit from behind by Anor while awaiting a Colin Clark cross, and he said he had no doubt it was the right call.
“If someone runs into the back of you,” he said, “the fact is you're going to fall over.”
Head coach Bruce Arena acknowledged the Galaxy was “fortunate to get a couple calls out of it that made a difference.”
“We've been on the other side of those games a number of times this year,” said Arena, who team vaulted to fourth in the Western Conference, seven points off the lead. “At this point of the season, we should have 11 or 12 victories, and we've shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, so we've got to battle and keep moving forward and try to move up the ladder in a very competitive conference.”
It sure felt better than Saturday's loss.
“[If we were] sitting in this locker room after a defeat [in this game], I think we would have been completely shattered, to be honest with you,” Keane said. “Our heads would have been down. But because you do win the game, it's amazing how confidence can get you through a few more games.”