The LA Galaxy were nearly dealt a death blow in the 87th minute, when Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell awarded a Herediano late penalty, only for the crossbar to bail out the Galaxy and allow them to leave Costa Rica with a scoreless draw.
In the 86th minute, Campbell awarded Herediano a penalty after he adjudged Sean Franklin to have bundled over Ismael Gomez. On closer review, there was contact, but Gomez appeared to go to ground rather easily to earn his team a penalty. It seemed that LA would go down a goal in the two-leg series, but Gomez, who took the penalty himself, rattled the crossbar of Carlo Cudicini’s net, keeping the game scoreless.
That call was not the only questionable decision that went against the visitors as a 67th minute Mike Magee goal was negated for offside. According to television replays, the Galaxy forward was nearly a full yard onside when the call was made, robbing LA of an all-important away goal.
The LA Galaxy knew that they’d have to withstand hostile conditions at Estadio Elano Rosabal Cordero, and they were provided with just that on Thursday night.
In addition to a raucous crowd, the Galaxy struggled to cope with an uneven FieldTurf surface that seemed far below the standard set in MLS. Routinely, LA’s possession-oriented attack was stopped as the ball struck the coarse surface. Robbie Keane for one seemed visibly angered at times as the surface caused considerable problems for him early on.
Meanwhile, Herediano – and Costa Rican league veteran Marcelo Sarvas – seemed perfectly at home in the surface as the Florenses controlled the run of play for wide stretches of the game. LA will have the conditions—and the crowd— in their favor heading into the second leg at The Home Depot Center.
A draw in Costa Rica wasn’t the perfect result, but the LA Galaxy head into the second leg of their quarterfinal with Herediano in a fair position to advance to the Champions League semifinals.
The Galaxy won each of their home games during the group stage of the competition and have only lost one match at The Home Depot Center in CCL play since the start of the 2011-12 tournament.