LA Galaxy rue missed penalty decisions in draw with Portland Timbers

Landon Donovan says the Galaxy should have had two penalties against Portland

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy battled back Friday to earn a 2-2 tie with the Portland Timbers in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center, but they couldn’t help think of one that might have gotten away.

Landon Donovan, in particular, likely felt he was short-changed after referee Jair Marrufo’s decision – or non-decision – to not award him a pair of late penalty kicks.

It was well into the second half and Donovan was deep in the penalty area when Timbers defender Danny O’Rourke appeared to make contact with Donovan from behind. The Galaxy veteran fell, but Marrufo made no call despite vehement protests.

Ten minutes later Donovan was at it again, just at the top of the penalty area and about to break through the Portland back line and head in on goal when the Timbers’ Diego Chara appeared to trip him. There was some question where Donovan was fouled – inside or outside the penalty area, it was that close – but Chara was given only a yellow card.

Juninho’s ensuing free kick was just knocked away by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

“I may be a little biased,” Donovan said, drawing a laugh from reporters, when asked to comment on the plays. “I clearly think the first one I got in front of O’Rourke and he hit my leg and I went down. That’s one of those I thought for sure it was going to be a penalty. At the end of the day if the ref doesn’t see it he doesn’t see it.

“The second one it’s close. I don’t know if it’s in the box or not … it’s right on the line. And I think the rule is denial of a goal-scoring opportunity; I like my chances in that situation.

“You can understand he wouldn’t give a red, but on balance it probably should have been a red card.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena agreed, with the caveat he thought Chara should have been at least cautioned earlier in the game.

“The second one I think is a red card because he’s going to goal,” he said. “I don’t think the last defender matters. He’s denied a goal-scoring opportunity. Plus (Marrufo) allowed that player to get away with not getting carded previous to that. He fouled someone from behind in the other half of the field and he let it go.

“The other one with Landon and O’Rourke I can’t see from my angle whether there’s contact or not. I don’t know.”

In any event, the Galaxy understandably felt somewhat unsatisfied despite battling back late in the second half to salvage a point.

“We could have competed better most of the game, and that was disappointing,” Donovan said. “We feel like this was a game we should have won.”