The LA Galaxy's worst defeat in more than a decade looked like any other tight battle through the first 70 minutes. They were unfortunate to be behind and were creating more chances than were the New England Revolution, but weren't particularly precise in the final third.
Then referee Fotis Bazakos overruled his linesman on a call on the right flank, Diego Fagundez smartly took a quick free kick and Lee Nguyen finished through LA defender Tommy Meyer's legs to give the Revs a two-goal advantage.
That was it for the Galaxy, who went into a tailspin and conceded three more goals at the finish of an embarrassing 5-0 decision at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. It was Bazakos' “inexplicable” decision — and their inability to deal with it — to which they kept coming back as they attempted to explain what happened.
It occurred in the 71st minute, after Landon Donovan chased down Andrew Farrell on the right wing in LA territory. Farrell went down, the ball went out of bounds and linesman Adam Garner signaled for a Galaxy throw-in. Bazakos saw things differently.
“I chased the guy on the sideline, and he took a dive and we both got up,” Donovan explained to reporters. “He kind of smiled at me, and I said, 'Don't do that,' and he said, 'I know, I dove.' So the linesman pointed his flag for us, and we were both moving back. He was defending and I was moving forward to get the throw-in, and the next thing I knew, the referee inexplicably called a foul. They were going at us and in our box, and then from there it was a goal.”
The Galaxy never recovered, and they slumped to their worst loss since a 5-0 loss to the MetroStars back in June 2002.
“We had a poor response,” Donovan said. “After the second goal, we left our back four out to dry a little bit, we left Carlo [Cudicini, the goalkeeper] out to dry a little bit. We have to take responsibility, and especially me as a captain. I have to take responsibility, and our reaction needs to be better. Even if things aren’t going our way, we need to do a better job.”
Head coach Bruce Arena wasn't happy to see his team unravel so and said he was “going to kind of make believe the last 15 minutes didn't happen. ... The second goal, let's be honest, the referee made a big mistake and caught our team on the wrong side of the ball, and that happens, and that basically turns the game, but no excused on our part.”
Arena said he was “hopeful that the referees and assistant referees can learn from [the situation and communicate better]. There's too many guys there that could correct that and resolve that issue. It’s a big part of the game, but in all fairness, we weren't in position to win the game anyway.”