GUATEMALA CITY – From first to fifth in just 30 seconds.
The LA Galaxy saw their fortunes change in an instant during their 1-1 draw against Comunicaciones FC on Wednesday at the Estadio Cementos Progreso.
Alan Gordon’s late goal had put the Galaxy just seconds away from a victory before a series of defensive miscues led to a Rolando Blackburn equalizer for Las Cremas deep in stoppage time.
As has been the case time and time again this season, the Galaxy conceded another late goal that stole a draw from the jaws of victory.
"It's becoming a broken record. Managing the last three minutes has been a challenge for our group. You would think over the course of a year where we'd been under those conditions, we'd do better,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan told reporters. “We didn't manage it well, knowing that we had limited time left and needed to kill the game. We failed. They made one play on the last play of the game. It's a bitter feeling; we didn't make the play that should have been made."
For 93 minutes, the Galaxy handled a Comunicaciones FC side that dominated wide stretches of the match. Whether it was timely saves by Brian Rowe or clearances off the line by defender Tommy Meyer, the Galaxy’s defense kept the Guatemalans off the scoreboard until Alan Gordon put Los Angeles ahead in the closing minutes.
The dagger came with practically the last kick of the game, as Agustin Herrera split two Galaxy defenders. The second-half substitute then squared the ball to Blackburn, who smashed the ball into the Galaxy net from close range.
“We have to finish the game out and get the win. It’s disappointing. It’s possible to fix this. It’s a concentration thing and a mentality in the group,” captain Todd Dunivant told LAGalaxy.com. “We’re good for 93 minutes, but you have to do it to the last whistle. By no means is it something that we can’t fix, however, going forward.
“We have to focus at the end of games. It’s been something that we’ve struggled with as of late,” midfielder Rafael Garcia added. “No excuses, but at the same time, the amount of fight that we put in this game, I’m upset that we couldn’t get a victory. I’m gutted. The guys deserved a victory.”
The Galaxy’s draw means that they’ll now face Liga MX power Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League next year. Although their series with the Torreon-based club is still months away, the Galaxy already have Los Guerreros in their sights.
“In order to win this competition, you have to beat the best,” Garcia said. “This has team has been known for beating big teams so we’ll definitely refocus and regroup when that series comes months from now.”
Before they can focus on Santos, however, they must take the lessons of Wednesday night into Sunday’s all-important game against Sporting Kansas City where a win will secure the Galaxy the Western Conference’s second seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“We just have to dust ourselves on and move onto the next game,” said Gordon. “We’re professionals and part of being mentally strong is dealing with tough losses. We’ve got an important task at hand now. We have to win in Kansas City. That’s our next objective. What’s done is done.”