CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez set the pick for Eddie Johnson's header in the US national team's victory over Mexico earlier this month, and on Saturday night he found himself on the other side of the same play. He didn't like it.
Gonzalez was taken out of the play when Johnson nodded home Mauro Rosales' corner kick to give the Seattle Sounders an early lead over the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center, one of two decisive plays in the 1-1 draw that frustrated the home side no end.
The Galaxy had the better of the Western Conference showdown, but Seattle did well to minimize Robbie Keane's impact, and the Galaxy had just one moment worth celebrating: Juninho's free-kick equalizer just before halftime.
LA wasn't particularly pleased with how easily Johnson got free on the 25th-minute opener nor with the whistle that denied Gyasi Zardes' go-ahead tap-in early in the second half.
“It's certainly a game that we deserved to win,” Keane said. “They got the goal and [we] did well to get back into it, and certainly in the second half we were the much better team. We were just a little bit off and the things weren't falling.”
Trapping Gonzalez was critical on the first goal, on which Johnson sprinted alone into space just above the 6-yard box to finish.
“I just got picked, and Eddie ran near-post free,” Gonzalez said afterward. “Right before the play happened, I remember looking over to Gyasi and saying, 'Watch for the pick,' and as I'm saying, 'Watch out for the pick,' [Johnson] pushes me, I try to catch up, and then I get picked and he runs free.
“It was a good play for him, and there was not much I could do after I got picked.”
Todd Dunivant blamed confusion as Gonzalez was blocked, that nobody switched marks and took off after Johnson.
“Just a little cross-up, and it's a designed play,” Dunivant said. “I'm sure they tried to pick Omar and get him out of the way. We just have to switch there.”
Juninho pulled the Galaxy even with a superb free kick in first-half stoppage, and LA appeared to net a go-ahead goal in the 60th minute after another Juninho free kick, from the right flank, was nodded by Gonzalez at the back post into the goalmouth for Zardes to tap in.
Referee Silviu Petrescu whistled a foul, apparently on Dunivant, as the cross neared Gonzalez. Dunivant was perplexed.
“That couldn't have been on me,” he said. “I thought it had to be Omar. I don't know what he possibly could have called there. I definitely didn't do anything. ... I thought it had to be something behind me.”
Bruce Arena was unhappy with what he termed “inconsistent” officiating.
“If that was a foul, then maybe Eddie doesn't get his goal in the first half,” he said. “I thought it was inconsistent, and in a tight game like that, obviously those kinds of plays and calls are what decides the outcome.”