GALAXY: Price for late PK is two points
The last two games at Livestrong Sporting Park went to the wire, with late equalizers and stoppage-time winners sending Sporting Kansas City, in a marathon homestand at its new digs, to painful, dramatic defeats.
Another strike in stoppage determined Monday's showdown, but this time it was the Galaxy in a world of hurt.
Omar Bravo converted a 92nd-minute penalty kick as Sporting, its high-pressure attack poking holes in the L.A.'s league-best defense, rallied twice from deficits for a 2-2 Labor Day draw.
It left the Galaxy at 14-3-10, with 52 points, when they should be heading home with 54.
Sean Franklin, who entered his fourth Major League Soccer campaign without a goal, doubled his 2010 output with strikes in the 25th and 74th minutes, but L.A. gave up two goals on set pieces -- one didn't count, although it should have -- and surrendered the final equalizer when a Julio Cesar cross glanced off Frankie Hejduk's arm in the 90th minute.
Referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot, and Bravo's finish split the points.
“I'm happy I got two goals,” Franklin, who volleyed a put-back header from Omar Gonzalez for the first and first-timed a diagonal ball from David Beckham under Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen for the second, told the media afterward. “But I wish on the day out team have got three points. ...
“We were definitely frustrated we gave up a penalty kick in the 90th minute. On the day, we'll take a point, but there's definitely three points out there we should have got.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: Gotta give Franklin some love. He's a natural at right midfield, more so than at right back, always dangerous going forward, and both of his goals were quality.
But Sporting (9-8-10) was the aggressor most of the match, especially at the end, and breakout midfielder Graham Zusi was the guiding force. His shot from distance requires attention, but he also pops up in pivotal places and combines well to create opportunities. He was the best man on the field.
BEST GOAL: The best goal was the one that didn't count.
K.C. right back Aurelien Collin outbattled Todd Dunivant to Chance Myers' long free kick, nodding it superbly inside the right post to draw Sporting even in the 84th minute. Except linesman Peter Manikowski had his flag raised.
Problem was Collin wasn't offside -- Bravo might have been, but he wasn't in the play. As K.C. coach Peter Vermes said afterward: “To take away a world-class goal like that is unacceptable.”
All three of the non-PKs that counted were nice -- beautiful Beckham pass on Franklin's second -- and Julio Cesar's in the 72nd minute was a treat. C.J. Sapong volleyed Zusi's corner kick beyond the far post, but the ball struck Davy Arnaud's backside and ricocheted backward, and the Brazilian defender deftly stabbed it out of the air and inside the near post.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Galaxy didn't have great energy and struggled to defend dead balls, but they were in command anyway and looked to be cruising toward victory almost until the end. Their attempts to close out the match, to hold onto two leads, was inadequate.
L.A. surrendered one goal on a corner kick, gave up another (the one that didn't count) on a free kick, and were unfortunate on the cross that led to the penalty kick that Salazar didn't see Sapong push Gonzalez before the ball struck Hejduk's arm.
“I think we could all be a little better at the end,” said Landon Donovan, who started on the bench, coming on after an hour. “Certainly our defending on set pieces needs to be better, and I think, overall, just doing a better job of playing the game. ... I think we were just a little na´ve in certain spots, giving away balls and just not defending well on set pieces. That came back to haunt us.”
WORTH NOTING: Then field was a travesty, coming up in clumps from start to finish -- some of the divots were massive. “Great facility -- hopefully, they can get the field right,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “It's a shame that the field in in the shape it's in.” ... Donovan played Friday night in the U.S. loss to Costa Rica at Home Depot Center, made his first substitute appearance of the MLS season. Beckham served as captain. ... Beckham picked up his league-worst 10th yellow card in stoppage after rushing into the box before Bravo's penalty kick to point out that the ball was just in front of the spot, not on it. Salazar didn't care to hear. ... Hejduk made his second straight start at right back. ... K.C. enjoyed uncommon health. Arnaud made his first appearance since June 25 -- he missed 11 games after sports-hernia surgery and had never played at LSP. Collin made his first start since July 23. Jeferson had been out since Aug. 6. ... A stadium attendance record was set: 20,512, nearly 2,000 beyond seating capacity (18,657). ... Sporting is eight games into a nine-game homestand, the reward for playing its first 10 games on the road while waiting for Livestrong Sporting Park's completion.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “It’s a draw. It is what it is,” Arena said. “We started the second half well. We had a chance to make it 2-0 and we didn’t do it. We got a good second goal, and you think that point we're going to say, 'Listen, we're on the road, it's one of those nights, don't give up another goal and get out of there.' We didn't get it done. We made too many individual mistakes, too many mental mistakes over the last 10 minutes or so.”
NEXT: Friday vs. Colorado at at Home Depot Center, 8 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes)
Livestrong Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kan.)
Sporting Kansas City 2, Galaxy 2
LA -- Sean Franklin (Omar Gonzalez) 25
SKC -- Julio Cesar (Davy Arnaud, C.J. Sapong) 72
LA -- Sean Franklin (David Beckham) 84
SKC -- Omar Bravo pen. 92+
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Frankie Hejduk, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Sean Franklin, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee (Michael Stephens, 78); Adam Cristman (Jovan Kirovski, 88), Chad Barrett (Landon Donovan, 60). Unused subs: Paolo Cardozo, Bryan Jordan, Miguel Lopez, Brian Perk.
Yellow cards: Espinoza 2, Hejduk 66, Zusi 67, Collin 73, Donovan 84, Beckham 91+.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar. Att.: 20,512.