Los Angeles Soccer: Julio Cesar
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.
Jimmy Conrad expects his first few minutes wearing a Chivas USA jersey in a real game will be a bit emotional, but that has nothing to do with the red and white stripes.
His tenure with the Goats begins Saturday night at Home Depot Center, and he couldn't envision a better first foe: Sporting Club Kansas City, the team he spent the past eight seasons leading from the rear.
The four-time Best XI center back was one of the most consistent performers and a fan favorite with the Kansas City Wizards, as Sporting previously was known, but head coach Peter Vermes informed him late last fall that he was no longer in the club's plans.
It worked out for Chivas USA, which acquired the former Temple City High School and UCLA standout in December's re-entry draft, and for Conrad, who is the backline anchor on a Goats team looking to build something special behind new head coach Robin Fraser.
That doesn't necessarily lessen the sting.
“There's a lot of reasons I want to win this game, regardless of the opponent,” Conrad said this week. “But it'd be nice [to beat K.C.] Anyone that's been let go from one team and now think that they didn't want you anymore, you obviously want to stick it to them a little bit. … I'm human.
“But after a few minutes of the game, once we get started, then its just another game, a matter of making good soccer decisions and organizing and putting guys in good spots and let everything else kind of fall where it goes.”