HEREDIA, COSTA RICA – A questionable penalty kick call nearly caused Sean Franklin and the LA Galaxy to come undone in the closing minutes of Thursday’s scoreless draw against C.S. Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal first leg. But thanks to a crossbar, LA head into the second leg on level terms.
Chances for both teams were few and far between, but in the 86th minute, referee Courtney Campbell nearly changed the game and the series as he awarded a penalty to Herediano after he ruled that Franklin brought down Ismael Garcia in the box. Replays show that Garcia tumbled quite easily after a receiving a tug from Franklin.
A minute later, Garcia failed in his attempt to put Los Forenses ahead as his penalty kick rattled the crossbar and was soon cleared away. Although the call was questionable, Franklin admits that he must do better in that type of situation.
“I know I’ve kind of got to be a little bit smarter. It’s late in the game, the ref is maybe looking to make a call and I maybe pulled him a little bit but he kind of dove a lot,’ said Franklin. “It is what it is, but I’ve just got to be a little bit smarter in that situation.”
But once the penalty rattled the horizontal, Franklin was able to take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand—maintaining the shutout.
“I was happy, I was relieved. I was just glad that they didn’t score and we weren’t going back home with a 1-0 loss,” said Franklin. “It bothered me once the penalty was called but once he missed, I let that go and I was just focused on making sure I was sharp the last five minutes of the game.”
After enduring an intense atmosphere for the entire Costa Rica trip, Franklin admits that he is relishing the return leg at The Home Depot Center.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Franklin. “Their fans are passionate about the game. They showed up at the airport, they were here at our training session. It’s all part of the game. But I’m looking forward to getting back home and getting in front of our fans next Wednesday.”