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Gallant Galaxy falls a kick short
by Ridge Mahoney, August 30th, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  mls


Great saves. Astonishing goal-line clearances. Fierce tackles. Penalty-kick appeals denied. An own goal scored, another narrowly averted. Brazen goalkeeper "gamesmanship" during the penalty-kick shootout going unpunished, as usual. An unbelievable stoppage-time equalizer, on a bicycle kick, by an American.

Pachuca prevailed on penalties, 4-3, following 120 minutes that would be hailed as thrilling, dramatic, and riveting anywhere in the world to win the SuperLiga final. But David Beckham left the game in the 33rd minute with a knee strain and Landon Donovan failed to convert from the penalty spot.

Five weeks after the same two teams opened the inaugural SuperLiga tournament at the same venue, Pachuca needed every kick of the game to reverse that 2-1 loss.

Galaxy keeper Joe Cannon heroically shut out Pachuca during regulation and overtime but couldn't stop teammate Pete Vagenas from scoring into the wrong net late in the first half.

Nearly four minutes into second-half stoppage time, during a furious Galaxy goalmouth siege, Mike Randolph headed against the crossbar and a weak clearance was slammed back into the net by a flying, nearly horizontal Chris Klein.

The equalizer followed several agonizing Galaxy near-misses, with Alan Gordon and Carlos Pavon the most guilty of failing to beat the massive and muscled Miguel Calero in the Pachuca goal.

Landon Donovan's menacing runs and tireless workrate stretched Pachuca, substitute Cobi Jones helped swing the momentum the minute he stepped onto the field, and just about every Galaxy player simply refused to relent.

Cannon stopped a point-blank rocket, tipped away a deflection off the head of defender Abel Xavier, and received emergency assistance from defender Kyle Veris, who somehow blocked on the goal line a follow-up shot from yet another Cannon save.

Miguel Calero saved from Pete Vagenas on the first Galaxy PK attempt, but Cannon got that one back by stopping Gabriel Caballero - after edging a yard off the goal line before the ball was kicked - on Pachuca's third effort.

Xavier failed on the final penalty, missing the top corner by a yard after Carlos Rodriguez had converted Pachuca's sixth attempt for a 4-3 lead.

But the most costly miss of the night fell to Donovan; with the penalties tied, 3-3, after Marvin Cabrera had rattled the crossbar to whip the boisterous crowd further into a frenzy, Calero easily saved the kick that would have won the trophy, the million-dollar prize, and infinite redemption for the Galaxy.

Moral victories don't count as wins, but these ones do count for something.

Aug. 29 in Carson, Calif
Los Angeles 1 Pachuca 1

(Pachuca wins on penalty kicks, 4-3)

Goals: Klein (Roberts ) 93+; own goal (Vagenas) 28.

Los Angeles -- Joe Cannon, Chris Klein, Troy Roberts, Abel Xavier, Mike Randolph, Peter Vagenas, David Beckham (Alan Gordon 33), Kevin Harmse (Gavin Glinton 12), Kyle Martino (Edson Buddle 79), Carlos Pavon (Cobi Jones 54), Landon Donovan.

Pachuca -- Miguel Calero, Fausto Pinto, Leobardo Lopez, Julio Mansur, Marvin Cabrera, Damian Alvarez (Luis Gabriel Rey 92+), Gabriel Caballero, Jaime Correa, Fernando Salazar (Carlos Rodriguez 35), Juan Cacho (Rafael Marquez Lugo 73), Christian Gimenez (Edy Brambila 87).

Misconduct Summary:
PAC -- Fausto Pinto (caution; Persistent Infringement) 54
PAC -- Leobardo Lopez (caution; Pushing, Holding) 55
LA -- Alan Gordon (caution; Professional Foul) 77
LA -- Troy Roberts (caution; Pushing, Holding) 100
LA -- Mike Randolph (caution; Delaying a Restart) 111
LA -- Joe Cannon (caution; Dissent) 121

Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
Att.: 12,500


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