Los Angeles Soccer: Sheanon Williams
CARSON -- Omar Gonzalez was back on the field, and the Galaxy so dominated portions of the action Wednesday night that they should have been fairly certain of a victory well before halftime arrived.
Those were the pluses from the annual Fourth of July festivities at Home Depot Center, but they were greatly outnumbered by all that went wrong: squandered chances, defensive breakdowns, an inability to close out halves.
It all added up to a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia that, following last weekend's collapse against San Jose, has all but erased the glowing memories of the three-game winning streak that suggested the old Galaxy, the championship Galaxy, was back.
SoCal boy Michael Farfan set up one goal and scored the other, netting the winner five minutes into second-half stoppage, to give the Union (4-9-2, 14 points) their first win in five meetings with L.A. (6-10-2, 20 points), which kept pace with fifth-place Colorado in the Western Conference but lost ground to Real Salt Lake, Seattle and Vancouver, which sit second through fourth.
“The reality is we should be five wins in a row right now, and now we find ourselves behind the eight-ball a little bit again,” captain Landon Donovan said. “It's difficult to take, but the reality is now it's over. We can either moan about it or we can wake up tomorrow morning and get ready for [Sunday's game at] Chicago.”
The Galaxy created more than a half-dozen outstanding chances but managed to stick just one of them, Chad Barrett's 73rd-minute equalizer after Robbie Keane got the slightest of touches to a feed from Todd Dunivant. It wasn't nearly enough.
Keane ought to have had a hat trick in the first 25 minutes, David Junior Lopes hit the crossbar in the second half, and had David Beckham not been stuck in a luxury box -- next to Chelsea's Frank Lampard, rumored to be in L.A.'s sights -- following his foolish red card in the loss to San Jose, the Galaxy might have gotten something out of two late, close-range free kicks, one of them in the semicircle.
Keane's first two chances -- after pushing through two defenders at the top of the box, then beating goalkeeper Zac MacMath on the dribble in the fourth minute, then after stepping past MacMath to the left of the net in the 11th -- were cleared off the goal line, by Carlos Valdes and then Sheanon Williams. His third, a blast inside the box in the 25th, was parried by MacMath, who faced 16 shots but had to make just four saves.
“We gave the game away,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “That's a game we should have walked away comfortably with three points, in my opinion. Too many chances in the first half that were wasted. Poor concentration at the end of the first half cost us a goal. And just an extremely poor effort at the end of the game to get exposed and to give up the point we worked so hard to get.”
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 ..." Galaxy coach 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.