The Galaxy had a clear goal in mind when it left Los Angeles Monday morning on a two-game trip to Florida and New Jersey to play the Tampa Bay Mutiny and NY/NJ MetroStars.
"Last year, we were always looking up all season at the Kansas City Wizards, because they got off to such a tremendous start and we could never catch them," Coach Sigi Schmid said.
"This is the week that we can pass them [and take the lead in Major League Soccer's Western Division], so I think it's important psychologically.
"Basically, that's our challenge. At the end of this week, we want to be in first place."
But Wednesday night, the Galaxy saw its three-game winning streak come to a dramatic end when it was tied, 4-4, by Tampa Bay, which got four goals from Mamadou "Big Mama" Diallo.
Diallo, who led the league last season with 26 goals, registered the first hat trick ever scored against the Galaxy, with goals in the 15th, 16th and 37th minutes, then added a fourth in the 78th minute in front of 6,056 at Raymond James Stadium.
Having missed the Mutiny's previous two games because of a red card and league-imposed suspension, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Senegalese striker took it out on Los Angeles, but not before the Galaxy (3-2-1) produced a few shocks of its own.
The Mutiny (2-3-1), which had lost its previous two home games and which had been held scoreless in its two most recent matches, trailed, 2-0, only three minutes into the game as Brian Mullan and Sasha Victorine tallied early for Los Angeles.
The first goal came after a scant 39 seconds when Galaxy midfielder Simon Elliott stripped Mutiny defender Josh Keller of the ball, passed it to Cobi Jones, who sprinted into the penalty area before feeding Mullan, who netted his first MLS goal.
The goal was the second fastest ever by the Galaxy; Clint Mathis scored 37 seconds into a game against Kansas City in 1999.
Two minutes later, Victorine beat Tampa Bay goalkeeper Scott Garlick with a close-range shot after Elliott, Jones and Mauricio Cienfuegos had combined to unlock the Mutiny defense.
After that, Diallo took charge and Tampa Bay built a 3-2 halftime lead.
Greg Vanney put the Galaxy back on level terms in the 68th minute, connecting on a penalty kick after referee Alex Prus ruled that Jones had been fouled inside the box.
Diallo then notched his fourth, chipping the ball over Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Mullan scored his second of the game in the third minute of injury time to earn Los Angeles a point.
In Wednesday night's other game:
Washington D.C. 5, New England 0--Abdul Thompson Conteh scored four goals and Carey Talley one as United (3-2) thrashed the hapless Revolution.