WASHINGTON— The emotion was plain to see on the faces of the LA Galaxy after their stoppage time defeat to D.C. United at a chilly RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
This loss stung.
LA were within seconds of earning a draw on the road against a feisty United side before Chris Pontius scored a late winner to hand the Galaxy their first defeat of the 2015 regular season.
The team’s inability to put away multiple chances along with United’s late goal made this loss hard to swallow for the Galaxy.
“It’s definitely the toughest loss since I came to LA,” midfielder Stefan Ishizaki, who rattled the post with a shot in the 67th minute, said after the defeat. “We fought really well and played well, but just didn’t score on our chances. We had a couple in the first half and three or four in the second. When you play away, you have to score and keep that zero… It’s tough and really hard to take right now.”
Even with forwards Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes away on international duty, the strike tandem of Alan Gordon and Jose Villarreal gave United’s defense fits. In particular, Gordon had numerous opportunities to break the deadlock, but was denied twice by saves from United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Although the Galaxy could not find the back of the net, they seemed set to earn a valuable point away from home until United broke through on Pontius’ finish with almost the last kick of the game.
“We did enough to, at least, get a point,” Gordon said. “It’s disappointing and you can take positives out of it because we had a good team effort. We showed some character, but the last minute goal stings so we’ll learn from this and move forward a better team.”
But moments before Pontius put United ahead for good, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believed that referee Ismail Elfath should have whistled D.C. forward Conor Doyle for a foul after the striker barreled into goalkeeper Brian Rowe as he attempted to punch away at Sean Franklin cross. Following the match, Arena labeled the non-call “ridiculous,” but admitted that the burden fell squarely on his team for dropping points on the road.
“You don't let a goalkeeper get charged at the end of the game like that,” Arena said. “That's the one call that he can make on the day that's a reasonable call, but having said that, we should get a point out of this game."
When asked about the collision with Doyle, Rowe, who made two saves on the evening, simply shrugged off talk of a foul on the play.
“That's the game of soccer. You've got to keep playing and don't know really what you're going to get,” Rowe told reporters. “It was just a long ball over the top and I decided to come out for it. I tried catching it but there was pressure on me, so I punched it. You just have to keep playing.”
Even though the Galaxy were left disappointed after the loss to United, Gordon said that the defeat should be a rallying point for the squad heading into next week’s game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“[The loss] gives me fuel and I believe the other guys as well,” Gordon said. “When you suffer a tough loss like this, you’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror as a team, and fight back to earn those points back.”