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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
GALAXY: Donovan equals Kreis in displeasing draw

By Scott French

Galaxy
Galaxy players celebrate a first-half goal by Landon Donovan in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Landon Donovan scored again, his fifth goal in four games -- his fifth Galaxy goal in succession -- and that should have been enough for the Galaxy to claim victory in a hit-and-run trek to Philadelphia.

Sloppy finishing, a call that didn't go their way and a miscue at the back cost L.A. (4-2-5) in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night with the Union in Chester, Pa.

"We were well in control ..." Galaxycoach Bruce Arena said after Sean Franklin's giveaway gifted Union forward Danny Mwanga an 83rd-minute equalizer. "The result is very disappointing. We should have won this game by two or three goals. We missed a bunch of chances, the referee missed the penalty on the goalkeeper, we had plenty of chances to get to 2-0.

"We made a mistake at the end, and it cost us a goal, but, having said that, we were certainly in position to score two or three goals. But it is disappointing."

Donovan scored on a nice follow up midway through the first half after Juan Pablo Angel lost possession in the box, and L.A.'s dominance through the first 60 or 70 minutes certainly deserved better reward. Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon made several huge saves -- the best on a Chris Bichall blast in the 63rd minute -- Angel failed to effectively manage his chances, and referee Andrew Chapin might have awarded the Galaxy a penalty kick after Mondragon knocked down his Colombian countryman Angel after he stumbled with the ball when left one-one-one.

"It was a penalty, without a doubt," Angel said, "and I think if you ask Faryd, he would say it was a penalty. But at the end of the day, the ref didn't give it, and so it wasn't."

Donovan's goal was his 108th in MLS regular season, bringing him even with Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis for third on the all-time list. Ahead of them: former D.C. United star Jaime Moreno (133), Columbus forward Jeff Cunningham (132) and former Chivas USA forward Ante Razov (114).

A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:

BEST PLAYER: Omar Gonzalez was exquisite from start to finish, winning balls and playing outstanding positional defense at the back -- he was part of the reason Sebastien Le Toux never got involved -- and providing constant danger as a target on set pieces, heading just over the crossbar twice.

Chris Birchall was nearly as good, more so as a physical force in midfield than a creator on the right flank, but his intensity in battle was pivotal to L.A.'s midfield dominance. Donovan was very good, especially in the first half, and Michael Stephens created chances with some superb passing.

Let's also mention Union right back Sheanon Williams, who was Philly's best playmaker and defender, and the speedy Mwanga, who brought life to his side after coming on at halftime, fueled the Union's transformation in the final 20 minutes and took advantage of Franklin's error to net the equalizer.

BEST GOAL: Neither was particularly brilliant, but there were a lot of good facets to Donovan's strike. Franklin made the pivotal pass, a diagonal ball from the right flank that Donovan got a touch on en route to Angel in the box. The tall striker was quickly stood up by Williams, the ball lay exposed, and Angel posted up against Danny Califf as Donovan raced in to roll the ball into the net.

BIGGEST STRUGGLE: L.A. deserved all three points and a shutout, but Franklin -- who has a knack for being incredible one moment and really iffy the next -- made a poor back pass, not nearly enough weight to it, and Mwanga made him pay. That's five draws for L.A., and every one of them coulda/shoulda been a victory, if not for one thing (defensive lapse) or another (horrid call) or another (great unfinished chances).

"We were at fault for not scoring another goal," Donovan acknowledged. "Obviously, mistakes happen. It's part of the game. But we have had too many of those this year where we are giving away points cheaply."

Still looking for Angel to break out, and he was active again -- the past two games have been his best for L.A. -- and played a pivotal role in Donovan's goal. But he blew that one-on-one opportunity in the 56th minute, the ball rolling off and past him when he took his eye off of it for a fraction of a second, and didn't get the call when Mondragon ran him over as he looked to recover. That's the difference between one and three points.

WORTH NOTING: Central defender Gregg Berhalter made it to the 18-man game roster for the first time this season. He has been out since Feburary because ofa sprained knee. ... L.A. is two points ahead of RSL in the Western Conference, but the Utahns have played five fewer games. Philly (4-2-2) is one points behind New York in the East. ... Union head coach Peter Nowak missed the game, off in Poland to play in a charity event. Assistant coach John Hackworth guided the team in his place. ... Mondragon suffered a groin strain in the 74th minute, but after initially asking for a substitution, remained in the game to enable Hackworth to use all three subs to bring on offensive players. ... The crowd, 19,178, was the largest in the 10 months PPL Park has been open.

FINAL JUDGMENT: "This is a game where we had too many chances not to have more to show for it," Arena said.

NEXT: Saturday vs. Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (TV: Fox Sports West)

PPL Park (Chester, Pa.)
Philadelphia Union 1, Galaxy 1

G -- Landon Donovan 24
P -- Danny Mwanga 83

Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Chris Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Michael Stephens (Mike Magee, 87); Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett, 90), Miguel Lopez (Jovan Kirovski, 83). Unused subs: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Josh Saunders.

Philadelphia Union: Faryd Mondragon; Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Jack McInerney, 80); Justin Mapp, Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres, 67), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Danny Mwanga, 46); Carlos Ruiz, Sebastian Le Toux.

Yellow cards: Birchall 31, Carroll 58, Torres 76, Gonzalez 79, Mwanga 84, DeLaGarza 87, Williams 93+.

Referee: Andrew Chapin. Att.: 19,178.