The Los Angeles Galaxy came to Salt Lake searching for their first win on the road since they beat the Fire in Chicago on June 27 of last year, and the Green and Gold came away from Rice-Eccles Stadium still wanting after Real Salt Lake overcame an early lead for a 2-1 win.
Things looked good for Los Angeles early as Landon Donovan fed a beautiful pass to Peter Vagenas in front of an open RSL net. Somehow Vagenas managed to fail to turn the ball goalward on a glorious chance that should have been put away.
"There was also a number of opportunities that we should have put away," said Galaxy coach Steve Sampson. "Peter's chance should have been put away and he knows that."
The Galaxy kept pushing the RSL defense back into its own end, finding holes and creating chances for themselves. Finally, in the 40th minute the pressure paid off. Chris Albright beat Leslie Fitzpatrick before sending in a low cross that Jay Nolly deflected to Vagenas. Vagenas pushed the ball straight to the feet of Jovan Kirovski, and he made no mistake in front of the open goal to put the visitors up with an easy finish.
"It was the best opportunity we had because we kept the ball and it kind of lulled them to sleep," said Albright. "I just slid back door on Fitzpatrick and he lost me. I had a good first touch to get me to the endline and then just tried to get it over. Jovan did well to put it away."
Everything was looking the Galaxy's way -- until the second half started.
In the 49th minute Todd Dunivant flicked an RSL corner across his own net. Eddie Pope stabbed it home with a chest-high boot and made the score 1-1.
"We lost Eddie Pope in the box and you can't lose Eddie Pope on a corner kick, that's elementary," said Hartman. "We lost Eddie and he scored from three yards out."
Even though the Galaxy kept of the offensive pressure, having 16 shots for the night, they weren't able to find the back of the net.
"We created a number of opportunities that we should have put away but lso you have to give credit to Jay Nolly -- he played an outstanding match tonight," said Sampson.
The comeback for the home side was made complete in the 65th minute as Clint Mathis found teammate Jason Kreis running into the penalty area to chase down a long pass played over the Galaxy defense. Kreis, seeing Hartman coming off his line, chipped the L.A. keeper for his 95th career goal.
"Clint hits a good long ball and it bounces and I'm caught out in no man's land," Hartman said. "We lose Kreis and Kreis is able to put it over [me]."
"We just fell asleep coming out of half time," Kirovski said. "It's happened a few times this year."
Indeed it has. Coming out of halftime has been the most vulnerable time of the game for the Galaxy this year. Including tonight's game, Los Angeles has given up five goals between the 46th and 65th minute this season.
"That's one of the more bitter and embarrasing losses I have ever been apart of," said Donovan. "To lose that game was just mind-boggling. We should have been three- or four-nothing at halftime. If we think we're the greatest thing the world because we can win four home games, we've got a lesson to learn."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.