CARSON, Calif. – After 90 minutes, the LA Galaxy had three points and a confidence-boosting victory in the bag.
After 90-plus minutes, however, the Galaxy dropped two points and were left scratching their heads once more. And when the final whistle blew, the Galaxy walked away with a 2-2 draw from their match against Toronto FC.
The culprit was former Galaxy forward Alan Gordon, who buried his attempt from 15 yards out minutes after Juan Pablo Ángel had scored what appeared to have been the game-winner in the 90th minute.
“It was a great finish,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said, “but those kinds of things happen when you don’t play very well and we didn’t do that [on Saturday] again.”
The Galaxy settled for their second consecutive home draw, but should have been heading to Colorado for their next match with a victory under their belt. Ángel nearly saw to that when he scored his first goal since May 14, burying a loose ball in the back of the net to give the Galaxy a 2-1 lead.
Ángel raced past the goal, leapt and pumped his fist, then walked over the Galaxy sideline and hugged several team members before the match re-started.
“Those goals are very important, especially that late in the game. I thought it was the winning goal and it meant a lot,” Ángel said. “It was a very tight game and we didn’t have anything else going and that particular chance went in. I was very happy and very excited like everybody else on the field, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
WATCH: Ángel gives the Galaxy a late lead
Instead of taking their three points and calling it a night, the Galaxy let Toronto back into the match.
“Alan challenged for it initially. Maicon Santos challenged for it and then we were covering and the ball just snuck free to him,” Dunivant said. “It was kind of a freak play. Those things happen when you’re not playing as well as you normally should be.”
The build-up to the mad scramble at the end should not even have happened, Galaxy players said.
“Lack of concentration,” LA fullback Sean Franklin said. “The last minute of the game, we know they’re pushing for it. We’ve just got to get guys behind the ball. There’s no excuse for guys being tired. We should have closed out this game.”
A week ago, the Galaxy tied D.C. United 0-0 and a lack of energy and effort was cited as reasons for the draw. While the team showed more vigor and created more chances against Toronto than they did against DC, they still came away with a tie. Worse, the lack of effort on the final play was glaring.
“We’ve got to manage the game at the end. It’s quite simple,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Give Alan Gordon a lot of credit, a great goal at the end. We have a bunch of guys standing around. We got out-competed on that play.”
The Galaxy started the game off on the right note when Chris Birchall notched his first MLS goal in the second minute after Miguel López found him unmarked on the right side of the box.
But Gordon, who replaced Jacob Peterson late in the first half, came into the match seemingly determined to do damage against his former team, as he not only notched the last-gasp equalizer, but also tied things up at 1-1 in the 68th minute.
Gordon’s two goals on Saturday against LA were the second and third he’s scored against his former side. The striker had already done damage for Chivas USA in his first game against the Galaxy after a late-season trade in 2010.
Thus, that Gordon scored wasn’t really a surprise.
“You could tell Gordo was going to come on and do damage. It seems like it’s fate really,” Birchall said. “He came back to haunt as again. He’s a great player.”
If there was any bright spot to the match, David Beckham said, it was that the team’s effort was better than it had been against D.C. United.
“There was a lot more energy within the team, within the players. We played better than we did last week, but we still obviously didn’t finish the game off,” Beckham said. “We’re disappointed, obviously, with just two points from the last two games, especially being at home. But we have to pick it up.”