The LA Galaxy were nearly run off the park in the first half Saturday evening at Sporting Kansas City, somehow managed to stay within striking distance of the defending MLS champions and then gave a pretty decent showing after the break that wasn’t enough to snag points.
That’s their take after a difficult encounter with Sporting, who scored on Benny Feilhaber’s early free kick -- the first goal LA has conceded in the first 15 minutes of a league game in nearly two years -- and Lawrence Olum’s 61st-minute header on a post-corner kick scramble to halt the Galaxy’s unbeaten streak at eight games.
With a little better fortune, and more help from referee Allen Chapman, they believe they could have snatched a point.
"We were lackadaisical when we started," said Landon Donovan, who started atop the midfield diamond but moved up front at halftime. "They put a lot of pressure on us and came out with a lot of energy, which they always do at home. We didn’t do a good job of handling that or dealing with it.
"In the second half, we played a lot better. We were in control for a lot of the second half, but giving up a second goal certainly hurt. We did a good job to get back into the game and had a few chances to tie it, but it wasn’t enough today."
LA was hindered by Dan Gargan’s red-card suspension and Robbie Rogers’ ankle injury, and Sporting targeted Tommy Meyer, a central defender playing at right back, as they created clear chances throughout the first half and much of the second.
The Galaxy didn’t fold under the pressure, and once they got their attack going after intermission -- with Robbie Keane pulling most of the strings -- they came close to equalizing three times before Olum tallied, and Keane hit the crossbar before scoring his 10th of the year in the 79th minute.
Keane, who held an ongoing dialogue with Chapman much of the match, was disappointed in two calls that he believes took the opportunity away from LA.
He thought he should have received a free kick after a collision with goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum at the top of Sporting’s box in the 54th minute, after he fired high under pressure on a counterattack when Juninho stripped Feilhaber at midfield.
And that the corner kick that led to Olum’s goal should have been a goal kick.
"We maybe could have nicked a draw in the end, but we didn’t," Keane said. "I’m not too sure about their second goal. I don’t think it was a corner, to be honest with you. [Graham] Zusi was trying to keep the ball in. I mean, we asked the ref: Usually, when that happens, and I’ve been playing for more than 15 years now, [the attacking team last touched it] when Zusi’s trying to keep it in like that, but [Chapman] happened to give the corner. He’s played the game as well, he said, so he thinks he was right."
The play earlier in the half bothered LA head coach Bruce Arena, who noted that if Keane had passed the ball forward, rather than shot, he probably would have gotten the call.
"If you saw my leg, then you would say 100 percent foul," Keane said. "And, obviously, seeing the replay of it. Doesn’t matter if I had an opportunity to score. Fact is if he wasn’t there, it’s a goal, probably. But he cleaned me out. I didn’t think I’d be doing a cartwheel today like that."