The LA Galaxy were victimized by another end-of-game goal Saturday night, and while they weren't pleased with a referee's decision just before Chris Pontius' stoppage-time header gave D.C. United a 1-0 triumph at RFK Stadium, they agreed the blame was all theirs.
The Galaxy had more and better chances and dictated the game's pace much of the way. But a failure to kill things off at the end – a recurring theme from the past two seasons – cost them a point they thought was theirs.
“We deserved to come out of here with something,” defender Omar Gonzalez said on Time Warner SportsNet's postgame show. “Every single guy worked their butts off tonight, and it's just disappointing not to leave here with a point. We let ourselves down at the end – a mental lapse – and you've got to give credit to D.C., who kept pushing, kept pushing.
“It is what it is. You're unlucky sometimes, and we just have to move on.”
The Galaxy, with starting forwards Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes away on international duty, nearly went ahead on a sharp Alan Gordon header that United goalkeeper Bill Hamid snared in the 43rd minute, when Jose Villarreal volleyed over an open net three minutes later, and when Stefan Ishizaki hit the right post midway through the second half. But they also denied D.C. many good looks and went into the final seconds confident of a shutout.
Then Nick DeLeon beat Robbie Rogers for control of a Perry Kitchen ball to right side of the LA box, and Pontius won a scrap for position with Dan Gargan at the far left post to nod DeLeon's chip into the net.
“It's just a breakdown,” Gordon told media in Washington. “They had a nice play at the end there, but I think that when we look at it, we can do a couple things differently. Kill the game off up front, hold the ball a little better, positioning a little bit better, and we come away with a point.”
Head coach Bruce Arena was unhappy that referee Ismail Elfath didn't whistle Conor Doyle for charging into Brian Rowe as the goalkeeper came to the edge of his box to punch away a serve from Sean Franklin, moments before the goal.
“The referee failed to make that call at the end of the game, which would have ended the game with their player charging our 'keeper, which is ridiculous,” Arena said. “That's part of it, but we've got to accept responsibility for not coming off the field with a point. ... We have to be responsible for how we played in the last 30 seconds.”
Arena said that “losing that game was ridiculous.”
Rowe, playing in the absence of Jaime Penedo, said that Doyle “wasn't looking at the ball at all,” but “that's the game of soccer. You've got to keep playing and don't know really what you're going to get.”
Conceding late goals have cost the Galaxy double-digit point levels the past two seasons, enough to have handily won both Supporters' Shields, and they've surrendered two goals in the 90th minute or later in their first four matches this year.
Is it a matter of focus?
“It's tough to say,” Rowe said. “Sometimes when it happens, more often than not, you can kind of look into it like that, but it's the game of soccer. Stuff like that happens, and I know we'll learn a lot from this game and we'll move on.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.