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Miscues make Galaxy lead disappear as Morelia rallies for comeback win in CCL


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Galaxy


MORELIA, MEXICO – Three points were there for the taking, but errors in goal and by the officiating crew in the last 10 minutes proved disastrous for the Los Angeles Galaxy, who fell 2-1 to Monarcas Morelia in their CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday night.

After a stellar goalkeeping performance making as many as seven saves on the night, Josh Saunders allowed an Adrian Aldrete shot from distance to slip between his legs for the equalizer. The bad lucky only continued in the 90th minute when Robbie Keane–who had scored the Galaxy’s first goal in the 52nd minute— was ruled offside on an apparent go-ahead goal.

According to replays after the match, the call was clearly incorrect as defender Gerardo Lugo clearly played Keane onside on the play. After the call, the Galaxy’s disaster culminated just a minute later when Miguel Sabah capitalized on poor marking on a corner kick to score the winning goal for Morelia. Following the match, Saunders was understandably gutted about the one moment even sheding a few tears after the match as one of his greatest nights turned into one of his worst.

“It’s disappointing for us to come down here and give up two goals late,” said Saunders. “We worked really hard and I feel gutted to have the situation that happened, questionable or not, it was still a mistake by me. The ref made a judgment call to call it a goal, I say otherwise, but that’s how the game goes. I commend the guys because they played extremely well tonight, but we couldn’t come away with the result.”

At the outset of the match, it was Morelia, who came out the more motivated side, capitalizing on a Galaxy team that appeared to be struggling with the altitude as well as the hostile atmosphere. With Ecuadorian left winger Joao Rojas leading the Morelia attack, the Monarcas peppered Saunders net with chances. Despite the lack of possession, it was the Galaxy with the finest chance of the half as in the 31st minute, Omar Gonzalez headed a ball off the cross bar that nearly into the Morelia net.

In the second half, the script switched as the Galaxy appeared to have more confidence dealing with Morelia’s advances. In the 52nd minute, Los Angeles broke through on the counter attack as Landon Donovan found Keane, who expertly went around Jorge Gastelum for the goal.

“We broke out a little bit and Robbie broke out well,” said Donovan. “I wanted to get it to him as quickly as possible. His first touch was great and then he did a good job to knock it around the guy and had a great finish.”

As the Galaxy took the lead, the chants in Morelos changed from “Vamos Morelia” (Go Morelia) to a more nationalistic slant as “Vamos Mexico” overtook the crowd. This support in the stands led to a response from the team as Morelia began to dominate possession and press Saunders for a goal.

In the 90th minute, Gonzalez smashed a header onto goal that forced a save from Morelia goalkeeper Federico Villar that appeared to lay stationary on the goal line. Keane raced onto the ball and fired it into the back of the net, seemingly giving the Galaxy the lead. However, moments later, the goal was called off as Honduran linesman Oscar Velasquez ruled the Irishman offside. According to replays following the match, Morelia’s Lugo was three yards in front of Keane as the ball was played to the Irish DP..

Just moments after their goal was called off, the night got worst as right back Frankie Hejduk was called for a foul setting up a free kick for Morelia, which led to two corners for Morelia. On the second corner, poor marking on the Galaxy’s part allowed Sabah to break free and head in the game winner.

“I don’t really know what happened, they just started coming at us late in the game, the first goal, they hit a shot outside and they got lucky,” said Gonzalez. “They didn’t get any chances from behind us, we kept us in front of us, and they just got that shot from outside the box that’s exactly what we wanted. It was anyone’s game and they sort of came back.”

The Galaxy is now tied with Morelia on points in group A with six, but Monarcas are on top due to their head-to-head advantage. The pair will return to Champions League action with the Galaxy traveling to Costa Rica to face Alajuelense on Sept. 21 while Morelia travel to Honduras to take on Motagua on Sept. 22.

Although the Galaxy departs Morelia with a loss, the impact of the atmosphere at the intimate Estadio Morelos clearly had an effect on Los Angeles. Following the match as the team pulled away, fans lined up to get in one last shot at the Galaxy with their middle fingers proudly in the air.

“It’s pretty impressive actually how much cache there is around our team now,” said Donovan. “Everybody knows who we are wherever we go. Most MLS teams come down here and people aren’t aware of who they are.”

Although the Galaxy was hated when on the field, their impact in the city of Morelia was unmistakable as Galaxy jerseys were sold and worn even in Morelia’s city center. Upon learning this fact, even the battle-hardened Donovan couldn’t help but be amused.

“It’s good, it’s putting our league in a good light and it’s a positive,” added Donovan. 


  1. It has nothing to do with whether it bounced off a Morelia player. When the initial shot was taken Keane was onside. No Galaxy player intentionally played the ball until Keane scored so the play was clearly onside.

  2. Did you somehow forget the two magnificent saves from Morelia’s GK that kept the game level before Keane’s first goal? And let’s not forget the crossbar bounce from Gonzalez’s header. Game could’ve easily seen the Galaxy up by 4.

  3. Very true but where are we after the GER/ENG match for goal line technology? NO WHERE! Instead, FIFA makes a joke about hosting rights for a 2022 tournament.

  4. There was a match probably 5-7 years ago (maybe KC) where the Trinidad & Tobago ref “got sick”…fortunately there was a local ref who could do the job! And quite the job he did! My recollection of the details aren’t that great but I’m pretty sure the ref was a bit biased…PK’s and reds galore.

  5. Agreed about Saunders. That is the unfortunate reality of being a goalkeeper. Your mistakes are magnifies or if he keeps that shutout another ten minutes then they are praised. Just sucked that both goals went right through him after all those great stops. Thought Donovan did alright in mid and the loss of Juninho really hurt the Galaxy in my opinion.

  6. Palguta, Earl and another back they trotted out vs Real Espana, Molody are awful but especially Palguta. He looks lost half the time and is very slow to react! And yeah that 2nd goal was a mile and a half offsides. Santos deserved the win though.

  7. Then I guess Barcelona should never lose then;-) Soccer isn’t just possession and chances. It is finishing those chances or good defending if you are the away team in a hostile environment or even at home.

  8. Absolutely agree, I feel that is why we lost. In the 1st half we only had what 2 or 3 chances and I believe the only one that really looked dangerously wahs the 1st ball Keane touched. In the 2nd half we score and then what did we do, sit back and bunker. Ridiculous, I know the Refs had alot to do with the final result but still we gave this game away when we could have kept the attack going and win without hoping to bunker and defend. Pathetic tactic.

  9. I know in the past they imported refs from CONMEBOL for some of the WC qualifiers in CONCACAF. We should hope for guys like Elizondo from Argentina but I believe he’s retired since haven’t seen him around.

  10. It was a painful loss to take because I don’t think it was a deserved loss.

    Moriela’s first goal is further evidence that goal line technology needs to happen and happen now. It shouldn’t be a judgement call – the entirety of the ball either did or did not cross the plane. If this happened in the Euro Champions League, the world’s press would be foaming at the mouth with anger. The England v. Germany goal fiasco in the World Cup was bad enough.

    I was literally screaming at my TV “WHY!? HE’S NOT OFFSIDE!” after Keane’s goal. Truly unfortunate for the Galaxy to have not walked away with at least a draw there. I really hope the G’s can win the group so they don’t get paired with MLS opposition or Santos Laguna in the first knockout round.

  11. All the Central American countries are biased against the big bad United States coming and threatening THEIR national sport. Just earlier this year, corruption was revealed in CONCACAF. You’ve got to be kidding if you don’t think it extends to refereeing.

    The problem is, there’s too much economic disparity between the US (and Canada) and other CONCACAF nations. This isn’t a problem in UEFA or CONMEMBOL.

  12. As usual the officials played a major role in two goals, one allowed, one disallowed. Everyone knows this is going to happen before the games start, so complaints after the games are silly. The only answer is to import officials from other regions.
    Arena’s subs were very poor. Both Jordan and Barrett were out to lunch. The Galaxy would have played better down a man than with them on the pitch.

  13. When have CONCACAF ever used a ref from the same country where the match is officiated? Of course the ref is not Mexican. He most likely is influenced/pressured to make favorable calls for the Mexican team. How long have you been watching US teams play there? This applies to any US soccer team that plays down there, regardless club/country.

  14. I would like to see the sort of “errors” or “miscues” the refs made go the way of an MLS team in Mexico at some point. I am not saying this was an obvious example of corruption, but how many times have we seen this before? Such consistent “bad” calls point to likely corruption.

  15. The ref for the Morelia-LA match wasn’t Mexican….

    On top of that, I’m not sure what a soccer game has to do with Mexican society. Keep that stuff out of here man.

  16. *shrug* At this point I’m not longer surprised when MLS teams lose this way in Mexico…that’s why the whole “MLS teams never win in Mexico” argument everyone liked like to throw around before this year always struck me as meaningless…It’s near impossible to win games on the road when you have to score twice for one to count…

  17. RSL dominated? Which leg of the final?

    They actually played well on the road in the first leg and to make matters worse, Monterrey went up to Salt Lake missing quite a few starters and were able to pull out a result while keeping the RSL attack at bay.

  18. Almost every CONCACAF game I’ve watched in Mexico, MLS teams get obvious good goals waived off. It happened to RSL last year in a game they eventually lost 5-4, and also to Columbus. MLS teams have to score twice for each one that counts. It happens too much to be random mistakes.

  19. So much for MLS’ dominance of Mexican teams this year. MLS is back to it’s old form, blowing leads and getting blown out. Yesterday was very disappointing.

  20. Who here is not surprised that goal was called off?

    This is Mexico and same cr*p happened to Columbus against Santos last year when they scored (i think it was the game winning goal) and it was called off
    because the guy who scored didn’t have a number
    on his shirt, yet ref/linesman allowed him back into the game before the goal…

    Mexico = B.S. Why do you think all the Mexicans want
    to come here? You think they don’t know their society is corrupt? If you want anything done, you always got to pay under the table with these people.

  21. When a player is at least a yard onside, that is not a miscue or mistake when you call back the goal. That my friends is deliberate cheating. I wish a sports “journalists” would look into the CONCACALF (as in calf head in your bed) reffing irregularities.

  22. Cant believe all the negative posts aabout LA keeper. He was magnificent, despite being hung out to dry late in the game. Sure the refs screwed a MLS team out of another goal, but without Saunders the score could have been something like 6-2. I mean, what in the hell happened to LA’s midfield? They were completely invisible and did absolutely nothing to help out an overwhelmed defense. Its so frustrating to watch another MLS team lose it late because they have no COMPOSURE under pressure. And I would have thought Donovan, who had been playing very well in the middle of the field, would have used his experience to rally his teammates. The MLS teams just badly need some leadership in midfield when theyre down in Mexico trying to close a game out. Oh well, I guess we are seeing progress, just slowly…

  23. I agree, the players mentinoed about help, as would not playing away, not at altitude etc. however, when you have subs like bryan jordan and chad barret who can’t connect 10 yard passes that is part of the talent gap I speak of.

  24. The Galaxy were playing missing key players in a hostile environment at high altitude. I think they can be forgiven for not playing an all out attacking style and just trying to do what is necessary to get a result, which is exactly what they would have had without corruption lending a hand.

    Where was your talk of “talent gap” in favor of the U.S. when RSL cruised to the championship game last year and lost after dominating completely for the entire match?

    The Galaxy are also first in their CONCACAF division. The only talent gap is between your ears. 🙂

  25. Arena’s subs were simply awful. Jordan should not be playing professional soccer and Kirovski should be retired. How many chances has Barrett had in MLS?

  26. Barret and Cristman stink, but Josh Saunders should have stopped both of those goals.

    Why is Ricketts not playing in such an important match???


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