Despite becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth in every year in MLS history, both Los Angeles Galaxy players and coaches alike felt their 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Wizards was bittersweet.
Thanks to a little help from the rest of the league, the Galaxy needed just a point from the game to secure a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs. But the Galaxy response came as a result of the equalizer, an 89th-minute own goal off the boot of defender Sasha Victorine.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson called the first half, which his side dominated yet failed to convert any of their chances, "some of the best soccer I've seen since arriving here." The Galaxy even won a penalty kick, which Carlos Ruiz missed in the first half.
The Galaxy finally broke through midway through the second half when Tyrone Marshall stooped to nod home a corner kick from close range.
"It was something we've been working on all week in training. I just tried to make some space in the box and got my defender on my back", said Marshall.
Things were looking good for Los Angeles, and three points seemed to be in the bank until the 89th minute. That's when Josh Wolff sent a cross in from the left side that just evaded a lunging Igor Simutenkov, but did manage to find the boot of Victorine, who contrived to knock the ball into his own net.
"I was trying to get to the back post, and the ball just wrong footed me and bounced in," Victorine said.
It was also another dramatic conclusion between the teams this season, which has already seen the Wizards steal the full three points in the first meeting at The Home Depot Center thanks to a late Diego Gutierrez goal, and the Galaxy snatch a late draw in the first meeting in Kansas City on a Marshall header five minutes deep into second-half stoppage time.
This time, the unfortunate late goal was compounded by the loss of Sampson's first-choice central defenders, Marshall and Ryan Suarez. Both were shown yellow cards in the match resulting in a one-game suspension for each due to caution point accumulation.
Marshall will have to serve his suspension during the season finale at Kansas City on Oct. 16, because he will already miss next weekend's league match while on World Cup qualifying duty with Jamaica.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Soccer or its clubs.