Chicago draw could turn LA’s season around

Gonzalez’s late goal in Chicago rescued a point for the Galaxy and may have rescued the club’s

Omar Gonzalez vs Chicago Fire

Photo Credit: 
David Banks / Getty Images

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CARSON, Calif.
– The LA Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis looked up at the Toyota
Park scoreboard in Bridgeview, Ill.,
last Saturday afternoon and didn’t like what he saw. The Chicago Fire had just
taken a 1-0 lead and there were only two minutes left in regulation.

Galaxy teammate Omar Gonzalez was even more depressed. He had been
called for a foul by referee Mark Geiger that allowed the Fire’s Collins John
to score the go-ahead goal on a perfectly placed free kick from 20 yards out.

Galaxy head coach Bruce
Arena was thinking his team shouldn’t have been in that position in the first
place. The Fire had been playing with 10 men for most of the match and Landon
Donovan had missed two excellent scoring chances, including a first half
penalty kick.

But the Galaxy, showing the
resiliency that had been their trademark a year ago, responded with a goal by
Gonzalez in the first minute of stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw that could
turn out to be one of their most important results of the season.

Arena was asked Tuesday
about how a loss to Chicago
might have affected his team’s psyche, especially during a stretch in which the
club had gone 3-5-3 after a 10-0-2 start.

“You’d kill yourself
thinking about that stuff. Why would we be thinking about something that didn’t
happen?” he said. “Who’s denying the fact if we had lost that game it wouldn’t
be disappointing? We didn’t.

“I’m not going to worry
about what didn’t happen.”

Gonzalez, who scored his
second goal of the season by out-jumping Fire defender Wilman Conde and heading
Donovan’s perfectly-placed corner kick past Sean Johnson, said the result was a
good indicator of the character of this year’s team.

“I’m just happy we didn’t
shut down,” he said. “We just put the ball down and started getting after them
right away. I think that shows a lot of character. We have a lot of fighters on
this team.”

Gonzalez admitted he was
thinking the worst after John’s free kick found the Galaxy net.

“For sure,” he said. “What
hurt is I was called for the foul. I was pretty bummed, but I forgot about it
right away and I was looking forward to the next play.

“I just wanted to be on top
of my game so I could get on that header.”

Gonzalez said there are a
number of comparisons to the resolve of this year’s club to 2009. Last year,
for example, the Galaxy scored 10 goals in the 80th minute on, and six of them
resulted in either a tie or victory.

“It just shows we have the
same fight and character as we did last year,” he said. “We made more of an
effort to not come from behind this year and start winning right away. If we
get down, we know how to come back.”

Midfielder Eddie Lewis, who
came on for Alex Cazumba in the 71st minute against Chicago, said Saturday’s result was a
carryover from a year ago.

“In many ways it is,” he
said. “We haven’t been put in that position as many times, but that fighting
spirit certainly was one of the characteristics we talked about maintaining
this year, because at some point we’re going to need it.

“The first half of the
season was quite comfortable for us. That sort of resilience and attitude and
fight will be necessary as we come into the stretch here.”

Lewis also said last
weekend’s result is just what the Galaxy needed to prepare for Saturday’s
crucial clash with the Columbus Crew at The Home Depot Center. The Crew and
Galaxy are in the thick of the race for the Supporters Shield, which goes to
the team with the best record in MLS.

“Regardless, this game is
going to be massive,” he said. “For us it’s about re-establishing our record and
remaining the points leader and all the rest. Either way there’s a lot of
pressure put on this game.

“We’ll continue to build off
last weekend’s performance and hopefully carry it on and get one better this
weekend.”