CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy withstood the brunt of Chivas USA's physical plan on Sunday and, through Jack McBean's fortuitous header in the 83rd minute, were on target for three points despite a performance nobody was particularly happy about.
Chivas were down to 10 men, following Joaquín Velázquez's questionable red card near the end of the first half, and hadn't created a worthwhile chance all afternoon. Game over? Hardly.
The Galaxy's defense, perhaps the best in Major League Soccer, broke down when it needed to be strong, and Carlos Álvarez poked home a low Carlos Borja cross in the 89th minute to give Chivas, rallying from a deficit for the second straight week, a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon at the Home Depot Center.
“That's the lead I don't think we've ever lost,” midfielder Mike Magee said afterward in a nearly silent Galaxy locker room. “It's not like it's something that happens all the time. I've never had this feeling in a while.”
Chivas had taken just one shot, an off-target José Erick Correa header in the ninth minute, before shredding LA's defense on the right side of the field. Leonardo headed away a throw-in, Eric Ávila collected it with his back to the goal and white Galaxy shirts surrounding him, eluded Michael Stephens, then threaded a pass between three defenders to the right of the Galaxy box.
Borja got a low cross off against Leonardo and Álvarez was behind A.J. DeLaGarza at the left post to knock it home.
It was the kind of goal the Galaxy rarely surrenders, especially with a lead in the closing minutes.
“That's what we're good at the last few years: 1-0 wins, 2-1 wins, things like that, closing games out,” DeLaGarza. “We were just lackadaisical, a lot of us, on that last play. ... I knew [Alvarez] was there, but it's one of those balls you tell your backs or mids to play, on the ground and hard. That's what [Borja] did, and it got me.”
Head coach Bruce Arena acknowledged his players had taken victory for granted after McBean's goal – “It was just a sloppy effort right there at the end of the game,” he said – but DeLaGarza said his thought was to “just lock it down and finish the game out.”
“We didn’t express our best soccer for sure ...,” goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini said. “I don't know [what happened on Chivas' goal]. The guy managed to be free on the right side and crossed it in. I think we had a few minutes earlier, we had a free kick in our half, and we just kicked the ball to their goalkeeper, and that shouldn’t happen.
“We had 1-nil up with three or four minutes to go, and we just need to keep the ball. I hope in a way that it is a lesson that we’re going to learn.”
The tie definitely felt like defeat.
“I just think today was a test of character. We definitely failed,” Magee said. “In the first half, we had all kinds of chances to play better and kind of match their fight, and we didn't really do it. When we finally get the goal after all that, we have a couple minute to kind of close out the game. ... To give one back is very disappointing.”