By: Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – Despite giving up a goal in the first three minutes, the LA Galaxy went on to pull one back through a 39th minute effort from Juninho and hold on for a 1-1 tie in their rain-soaked home opener against the New England Revolution
Their early defensive lapse aside, it was a strong performance from the Galaxy who had no less than three goals disallowed and were on the wrong end of several questionable refereeing decisions.
“I think on the night our team played very well,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “Obviously conceding a goal in the opening minutes put our backs to the wall and I think we responded well and got a goal back and probably had another goal although the referee doesn’t agree with that”
Brazilian midfielder Juninho scored the Galaxy’s second goal of the season to put the home side on the board with an angled shot to the far corner from the edge of the 18. Juninho’s effort cancelled out the opening goal from Shalrie Joseph whose third minute header found its way in between Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders and the far post.
“We didn’t do well in the opening minutes of the game and it cost us three points,” said Arena. “We’re well aware that the player that’s gonna get at the end of the cross is Joseph, we know that, there’s no secret there we just did a poor job on the play.”
The Galaxy looked to have equalized in the 16th minute when Juninho latched onto a fumble from New England keeper Matt Reis and drove the ball into the back of the net from close range. However the midfielder’s shot was disallowed due to a questionable foul inside the box.
“You can’t reward the goalkeeper for dropping the ball,” said Arena. “I don’t understand that one at all and perhaps the other ones were offside, you can’t argue that. We created a number of chances and didn’t get the second goal rather legitimate or not.”
The Galaxy had a total of seven shots on goal throughout the course of the match including a close-range, on target header from Galaxy captain Landon Donovan in the 14th minute that was saved by Reis.
Galaxy forward Mike Magee scored another of the Galaxy’s disallowed goals when he swept in on a deflection and drove it into the top corner. However he was correctly ruled offside. Following Juninho’s 39th minute goal the first half ended with the score deadlocked at 1-1.
In the second half with the rain pouring down in sheets, the Galaxy continued to press their case for a winning goal with Donovan using his pace to cut through the midfield and fire balls up to striker Chad Barrett who was unlucky not to have had a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
In the 65th minute the Revolution had their only other chance on goal of the encounter when Joseph got off another shot only to have it rebound off the post.
As the match ticked into its final 20 minutes the Galaxy continued to keep the pressure up with David Beckham raining balls into the box for Angel from the wings. However time and again the striker failed to connect or lost his footing on the wet pitch.
“I got quite a few crosses in tonight and I think the wind played quite a big part in the ball not arriving in certain positions,” said Beckham. “I think tonight in the conditions we still felt as if we could’ve won the game and obviously that’s disappointing in the home opener but I think what we can take from the game is the effort the guys put in and the chances we did actually create on the night.”
As the game ticked into injury time Angel was at last able to get a toe to one of Beckham’s crosses and drive it past a diving Reis. However much to the dismay of the soggy home crowd who’d suffered through wind, rain and cold to cheer on their side, there was to be no Hollywood ending tonight and the goal was again disallowed for being offside.
When the final whistle was blown the second half ended just as the first did, drawn at 1-1. While the Galaxy may lament the fact that their seven shots on goal yielded only one goal while the Revolution achieved the same shot with only two shots on target, their performance was solid and the result maintains the Galaxy’s unbeaten record this season.
As Beckham put it, “I think it’s always difficult in games when you do give up a goal early and I think obviously that was disappointing. But I think what was great was the character the guys showed to not let any more goals in and to get back in the game so that was great on the night.”