The Galaxy, who really can’t afford many more losses this season, lost both a player and a golden goal-scoring opportunity in the first 12 minutes of Saturday’s game with the Seattle Sounders.
What they didn’t lose was their grit or their composure and that paid off in a hard-won 2-2 draw before an announced crowd of 26,213 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Still the shorthanded Galaxy, who played most of the night with 10 men, felt they should have had more, with a freakish own goal in the 82nd minute costing them a win they probably deserved.
“I feel very proud about the players, the team, because they fought,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “They deserved more than one point.”
The score that denied them that came in the 82nd minute, when Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro launched a long ball over the top for Jordan Morris that drew Galaxy keeper David Bingham 30 yards off his line. Bingham got to the ball first and tried to punch it out of danger, but it struck defender Jorgen Skjelvik in the head and caromed into the net as Skjelvik gave futile chase.
Raul Ruidiaz scored Seattle’s other goal late in the first half while both Galaxy scores came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one on a first-half header and the other on a penalty kick midway through the second half.
For the Galaxy, who haven’t won back-to-back games since May, the draw gave them sole possession of third place in a tightly packed Western Conference table in which the second through eight spots are separated by just five points. But a win would have lifted them to second.
Given that the Galaxy has beaten Seattle just once in the last eight meetings, Schelotto said he might have taken a draw had it been offered before the game. But after watching his team fight with just 10 men, the tie seemed unfair.
“We played very well, tried to stay calm,” he said. “We deserved to win. We feel frustrated.“
Although the Galaxy were outshot 21-8, they tested Seattle keeper Stefan Frei twice in the opening six minutes – the first on a Diego Polenta header into Frei’s midsection and the second on a blast by Cristian Pavon from the left wing that Frei stopped with a leaping one-handed save.
But that was just the start of the Galaxy’s poor fortune because seconds later they lost center back Daniel Steres for the night after he was ejected for tackling Ruidiaz near midfield. It was the Galaxy’s third red card in five matches however the other two came late in games that had already been decided. This time the Galaxy had to play the final 84 minutes short-handed.
And Steres had barely made it to the locker room before the Galaxy were frustrated again in front of the Seattle goal, this time by referee Robert Sibiga, who awarded a penalty after Jonathan dos Santos was taken down in the box, then took it away after consulting a video review.
A breakaway led by Morris ended in Ruidiaz’s in the 42nd minute but that lead didn’t last long, with Ibrahimovic heading in a long, bending right-footed cross from Sebastian Lletget just before first-half stoppage time. For Ibrahimovic the goal was his 19th of the season while for Lletget the assist was his first since May 8.
The Galaxy captain briefly put his team in front 20 minutes into the second half, converting a penalty awarded when Kim Kee-hee took him down in the box as both players battled for a cross. That lead was also short-lived with a bad bounce leading to the own goal that cost them the win.
But Bingham recovered quickly, protecting the draw with splendid saves on Morgan and Luis Silva in the closing minutes.
Now the focus turns to the schedule, which favors the Galaxy in the playoff race because after road games with LAFC and Seattle in the next two weeks, the degree of difficulty falls substantially with just one of the team’s final six games coming against a team that currently has a winning record.