When a team's season starts spiraling out of control, things have a tendency to go from bad to worse. For the struggling Galaxy, the 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night was crushing
, not because of the result, but because of the way the beating was carried out. Soccer can be a cruel game at times and tonight's game felt like a punishment instead of a loss. Going into the night, the result could have been expected. San Jose was on a roll, one of the best in the West, and the Galaxy were in last place following a terrible defeat to Chivas USA on Saturday.
The punch in the gut comes from the fact that the defending champs looked great at times, even without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane due to national team duty. The Galaxy came out loose, connecting on passes, and dominating possession in the first half. Chad Barrett connected with Hector Jimenez for an early goal after three minutes that put the home side up 1-0 and confidence was high. The game felt like the Galaxy were in control. L.A. was getting dangerous corner opportunities with near misses in front of Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch. Juninho struck a 30 yard wonder strike that was barely saved by the San Jose keeper. The game felt like a 2011 Galaxy home game.
In the 60th minute, the player that put the Galaxy on top earlier made a critical mistake as Jimenez came in studs up on San Jose's Steven Beitashour and was given an immediate red card. Playing a man down, the Galaxy were on their heels but the night still appeared intact when they extended their lead to 2-0 in the 73rdon a beautiful midfield cross from David Beckham to Mike Magee, who put a few nifty moves on the San Jose defense and keeper as he buried the ball into the upper half of the goal. The Galaxy were 20 minutes away from a great victory over one of the top teams in MLS.
Lenhart buried a corner for San Jose a few minutes later and while the goal only put one point on the scoreboard, it felt like it represented more. For the struggling Galaxy, the race to 90 minutes was on as they attempted to simply clear the ball out of their defensive end. Galaxy Captain David Beckham became increasingly frustrated with the official, as San Jose started applying pressure. The night turned to horror as Beckham blocked a rocket shot from Jason Hernandez that clipped his arm. Beckham was issued a yellow, and after a converted PK from Stephenson tied the game. The tie felt like a loss, and the only thing that could make the night worse would be if former Galaxy player Alan Gordon could come on for San Jose to score the game winner in stoppage time. No need to tell you how San Jose scored the game winner.
The Galaxy played well enough to win tonight. The team showed heart and grit, something that was missing the last few games. Hopefully they can build on this unfortunate result and look at the good. A lot of teams don't recover from losses like this.
MY THREE TAKEAWAYS
1. Hector Jimenez.......what a shame. In a night where he should have left the field as a hero, the red card will be what is remembered. Unfortunately it is the story of this season.
2. David Beckham is brilliant at times and the Galaxy are simply much better when he is on the field. His distribution was excellent and the team was hitting on all cylinders even without Donovan and Keane. Beckham's tirades at the officials could be toned down. The team lost because of bad mistakes at terrible times, not because of officiating. The Galaxy need to focus on getting better, not on calls that they cannot change. As younger players are integrated, leadership from a player as good as Beckham is critical but so is focus.
3. It is only May and there is still a lot of time left, but unless this team starts getting three points and some wins, change will become inevitable.