By Ivan Yeo
It was almost there for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Galaxy took a 1-0 into stoppage time and seem poised not only to get three points and get themselves out of last place in the Western Conference, but also move Real Salt Lake out of a playoff position with two weeks left in the regular season. However, RSL got one chance and made the most of it. Kyle Beckerman’s goal off a rebound enabled the visitors to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Galaxy Saturday night at StubHub Center.
“It feels worse because we should have won the game running away,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were the better team. We played some decent soccer. At times, guys were stepping up. Some guys are not stepping up. Those are things that are going on, but we also have to manage the game.”
Playing with 10 men and trailing deep into a four-minute stoppage time, RSL got a break when a foul between LA’s Romain Alessandrini and RSL’s Joao Plata a few feet outside the penalty area was ruled in favor with Salt Lake, giving them a free kick. Plata sent the set piece low and past the wall, Galaxy keeper Clement Diop parried the ball away from goal, RSL’s David Horst tracked down the ball, touched it back to Kyle Beckerman, who blasted a shot past Diop into the back net at the upper right corner.
“Not to get sappy or anything, but this is why I’m in this sport,” Real salt Lake head coach Mike Petke said. “I love doing what I’m doing. This is why the players are in it. To win games and feel moments like this. You know, it felt like, I’ll be the first to stand here tonight and say it, it felt like a win tonight with a tie.”
While a point is nothing to scoff at, the Galaxy will surely look at the night as two points dropped. The Galaxy came out aggressive for most of the first half, but found themselves snakebit for the most part. LA had its first scoring chance four minutes into the match, as Romain Alessandrini had the ball on the left side of the field outside of the penalty area. Alessandrini dribbled to the line of the box and fired a volley that flied past keeper Nick Rimando, but bounced off the crossbar. LA kept the ball in RSL’s half the field, Jonathan Dos Santos fed a ball to Alessandrini, who touched a ball to Dave Romney, who beat Rimando with a shot far post. The goal however was waived off, as Alessandrini was ruled to be offside when he received Dos Santos’ pass.
Undeterred, the Galaxy continued to press on. Jonathan Dos Santos lobbed a ball to Bradford Jameson in the 8th minute, the flag stayed down this time and Jameson tried to chip Rimando, but his shot instead hit the side netting. Two minutes later, Jermaine Jones sprung Giovani Dos Santos with a long ball, Dos Santos sprinted into the box, played a short cross to an unmarked Alessandrini, who then shot a ball point blank at goal, but a calm and poised Rimando denied him with the kick save.
“We should have scored eight goals,” Schid said. “Even when it was even at the beginning we had three good chances to score goals. I don’t know how many breakaways we missed…four or five.”
Despite the early missed chances, things were really looking up for the Galaxy in the 14th minute. Jones played a ball to Giovani Dos Santos, who slipped past RSL’s Marcelo Silva and broke for goal. Silva however pulled at Dos Santos’ left arm, the foul was called and Silva initially received just a yellow card for the infraction. The play however went to video review to see if Silva denied Dos Santos a clear goal opportunity. After a few minutes, that was the conclusion referee Rubiel Vazquez reached and Silva received a red card, forcing Salt Lake to play a man down.
“I think that it could’ve been solved with a yellow card,” Silva said. “It was a foul with rough play, but I didn’t kick him or anything. But it happened, he expelled me and that’s it.”
After all that, the Galaxy’s persistence finally paid off in the 41st minute. Jones threaded a ball forward, Jameson timed his run perfectly, got the ball inside the penalty area and despite some last-minute defending by Justen Glad, managed to slot the shot past Rimando far post to stake the Galaxy to the lead.
“As soon as I saw Jermaine get the ball, my first instinct was to make the run and I knew he likely was going to be playing that in, so I obviously had no hesitation when I’m getting inside the box, so I’m going to shoot,” Jameson said of the goal.
RSL finally started to push some chances across in the second half, but the work of keeper Diop denied RSL both times. Diop stopped a shot by Luis Silva well inside the box in the 63rd minute, then had what looked like the biggest save in the match in the 84th minute. Albert Rusnak played a ball to an unmarked Plata on the right side and Plata broke for goal. Brooks Lennon joined in the attack from the right, Plata charged into the box and played a short cross to Lennon, who shot a ball just outside of the six-yard box, but Diop made the diving save to his left.