Bruce Arena was livid after the LA Galaxy gave away two more points on the road Sunday night, settling for a 3-3 draw with FC Dallas, but it wasn't his defense that angered him.
LA, who have lost a dozen points on end-of-game collapses, watched their late lead disappear when Blas Pérez rocketed a shot into the net following a free kick in the 86th minute. They believed the goal shouldn't have counted – and neither should have Pérez's first tally, which gave FC Dallas a 2-1 edge early in the second half – and replays backed them up.
“Terrible officiating, no question about it,” Arena told media in Frisco, Texas. “However, we're still in position to win the game. What more can you say? What more can you say? It's a shame we can't get better officiating in these games.”
Replays indicated Pérez was offside when he finished Michel's free kick in the 48th minute, and George John and Matt Hedges were ahead of the Galaxy's defense on another Michel set piece into the box, which led to Pérez's volley from the clearance. Assistant referee Kevin Buliba failed to raise his flag on either play, referee Silviu Petrescu awarded both goals, and the Galaxy's head coach was furious.
He had reason to be critical of his defense, which has repeatedly faltered on set pieces this season, especially on the road, where LA have conceded 26 goals (to just four at home). The Galaxy poorly defended a first-half corner kick to fall behind, then conceded twice off free kicks in the second half.
Arena wouldn't blame either of Pérez's goals on poor play at the back.
“The guy's offside,” he said. “In professional games, you have to assume that the linesman can make those calls. However, I would still say: On the third goal, we've got to do a better job. But what can you do? This is the state of officiating. It's what it is.”
The Galaxy, he said, “were the team that should have won this game. It's a shame. It really is.”
Omar Gonzalez, who nodded away the Michel free kick that Pérez finished at the end, noted that all the players are doing their best but “sometimes not everyone is on their game.”
“But those three guys [the referee and his assistants],” he said, “you want them to be on.”
Landon Donovan was philosophical.
“I haven't seen any replay, but if that's the case [that both Pérez goals were offside], it's unfortunate. It's part of the game,” said Donovan, who had pulled LA back from deficits with goals in first-half stoppage and in the 73rd minute, then pounced on a loose ball following a throw-in to provide an 82nd-minute lead.
“People make mistakes. Referees certainly are humans, too; they make mistakes.”