By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) -Despite being reduced to 10 men with 30 minutes left to play, the LA Galaxy snatched a 2-0 lead Wednesday night, only to see it evaporate into a 3-2 California Super Classico defeat at the hands of the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.
A makeshift Galaxy side that was without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane took an early lead, courtesy of Hector Jimenez. The Galaxy midfielder, who was making his MLS debut, collected a pass from Chad Barrett inside the 18 and slotted it home to make it 1-0 Galaxy in the 3rd minute.
However following a first half in which the Galaxy enjoyed the majority of possession and seemed to resemble last season’s championship side for long periods, Jimenez went from hero to zero when he was shown a red card just on the hour mark for a reckless tackle on San Jose defender Steven Beitashour.
“I felt good, I felt like I was doing good and unfortunately I put my team in a tough position with the red card,” said Jimenez. “I talked to the guys and they said it was a red card and it’s a bad tackle and unfortunately things happen.”
However not everyone in the Galaxy locker room was convinced the referee got it right.
“I don’t know. It could go either way,” said David Beckham. “Obviously he sent him off but I think there’s a chance there he wouldn’t have sent him off. Unfortunately we had someone in control of the game that tonight that every time that we’ve had him, he wants to be the star and that’s what happens when you have a referee that wants to be on Sports Center.”
But even with 10 men the Galaxy remained dangerous, scoring on the break in the 73rd when Beckham crossed the ball to Mike Magee who rounded Quakes keeper Jon Busch and tucked away what at the time seemed like the goal that would all-but-guarantee the Galaxy take full points from the match.
Five minutes later Beckham appeared to handle the ball in the box while blocking a shot from Jason Hernandez. The veteran midfielder was shown a yellow card and San Jose were awarded a penalty which Khari Stephenson duly converted to level the score at 2-2.
“I just turned my back and my arms were as close to me as they could be,” explained Beckham. “They weren’t outstretched yet it hit my hand, but could’ve gone either way. In the first half one of their guys falls on the ball in the penalty area he rolls over it couple of times touches it with his hand a couple of times, everyone else sees it apart from the star.”
As the now-contentious match ticked into extra time it seemed headed for a draw. But second half Quakes substitute Alan Gordon had other ideas. The former Galaxy striker, who has a habit of scoring against his old team, received the ball inside the 18 and headed home the match winner just seconds before the final whistle was blown; leaving the Galaxy and their supporters stunned and despondent in the face of a 3-2 loss.
But despite Wednesday’s disappointing result there were positives to be gleaned from the team’s performance and Beckham for one, was at least optimistic.
“Overall I think it felt a better team performance and one of the better team performances this season,” said the former Manchester United man. “I think when you’re on a run like this sometimes you need a little bit of a break and a little bit of luck. I think that we haven’t had that. But we’ll be fine, we’ll bounce back it’s good to have a tough game at the weekend so soon.”
The Galaxy are now win-less in their last six matches and in dire need of a turnaround if they are to retain any hope of defending their MLS title. The LA side have a season record of 3-7-2 and will head into their match away to the Houston Dynamo on the weekend sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference table.