Up 1-0 and with less than eight minutes left on the clock, it seemed the LA Galaxy would be taking full points from a visit to Philadelphia. Instead, they saw their slim lead vanish in the dying minutes and settled for a 1-1 draw with the Union.
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Rather than returning to the Home Depot Center with three points in their back pockets, the club must once again lament a lost opportunity.
“The result is very disappointing,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “We should have won this game by two or three goals. We missed a bunch of chances, the referee missed the penalty on the goalkeeper. We had plenty of chances to get to 2-0.”
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was left home and Chris Birchall started in his place. Forward Miguel López paired with Juan Pablo Ángel up top. Also, Michael Stephens took Mike Magee's spot. Aside from those three changes, the starting lineup was unchanged from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with New York.
LA got their lone goal of the night from Landon Donovan, as the club’s captain has now accounted for the team’s last five goals. His strike midway through the first half gave the Galaxy a well-earned lead. But it was goal No. 2 two that eluded them, and that ultimately played a role in the result.
“We were at fault for not scoring another goal,” Donovan said.
Philadelphia were unable to generate much scoring chances and appeared headed towards their second consecutive shutout. But in the 83rd minute, Sean Franklin took possession of a ball on the outside of the Galaxy’s penalty area. He turned and calmly played the ball back towards goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, but the ball was too calm.
Danny Mwanga pounced on it, slipped past Ricketts and buried it into the back of the net.
“Mistakes happen — it’s part of the game,” Donovan said. “But we have had too many of those this year where we are giving away points cheaply, I think we deserved better.”
The match was the Galaxy’s second in four days. After their thrilling draw with New York at the Home Depot Center last Saturday, the Galaxy had to travel across the country to play this midweek encounter. However, Arena said none of that made a difference during the match.
“This is a game where we controlled the game and played pretty well, so there was no carry over," he said. "It was a game where we should have had three points. Playing New York had nothing to do with the result tonight. This is a game where we had too many chances not to have more to show for it.”
The Galaxy will now have to travel back to Southern California and will face a rested Sporting Kansas City team that has not played since April 30.
While the travel and fatigue may be more of a factor than outside observers might realize, Donovan said the players did well to play for one another.
“Playing two games like this is hard, and then, when you throw in six hours of travel, it makes it very difficult," he said. "It is one aspect that some people don’t really understand. But our guys did a really good job tonight finding the energy, and now we have even shorter rest for Saturday and another flight home, so we have to be ready.”