[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Bad goalkeeping and questionable officiating reversed a one-goal lead and sent Los Angeles home from Morelia with a 2-1 loss Tuesday night in Group A of the Concacaf Champions League.
Provided a 1-0 advantage by Robbie Keane’s goal in the 52nd minute, the Galaxy succumbed to late goals by Adrian Aldrete and Miguel Sabah that were helped over the goal line by keeper Josh Saunders, who otherwise performed superbly as the Galaxy tried to become the third MLS team to win a CCL match in Mexico. FC Dallas and Seattle recorded victories in Mexico last month.
Instead, the Galaxy also lost an apparently good goal to an offside decision as it fell for the first time in group play.
Morelia’s win pulled it even atop the group with the Galaxy at 2-1-0 and six points. Both teams are on the road next week: Morelia plays Motagua in Honduras, and the Galaxy heads to Costa Rica to play Alajuelense. (Motagua and Alajuelense play Thursday in Tegucigalpa.)
The Galaxy, playing without Juninho (suspended) and David Beckham (rested), nearly scored in the first half when Omar Gonzalez’s header from a Landon Donovan free kick came back off the crossbar. The chance followed strong saves by Saunders on shots by Marvin Cabrera and Joao Rojas, and he also smothered a loose ball after his attempt to play the ball caromed off Gonzalez.
Keane scored his first CCL goal and second for the Galaxy by trapping a crossfield ball from Donovan on the right flank, gliding past Jorge Kalu, and firing a shot high past keeper Ricardo Villar. Keane nearly scored again later in the half with a spectacular lob from about 60 yards that Villar backpedaled furiously to tip over the crossbar.
Saunders stoned Morelia several more times before Aldrete equalized in the 83rd minute when his low, long-range shot squeezed under the keeper’s body and rolled to the goal line. Saunders lunged to apparently pin the ball with his gloves on the goal line, but his momentum moved it enough that referee Jose Pineda signaled a goal. A Morelia player was in the keeper’s line of sight as the shot was taken but replays indicated he wasn’t in an offside position.
The officials got that call correct but they erred badly in the 90th minute. Keane pushed a loose ball into the net after it had bounced off a defender as well as Villar, but the goal was waved off for offside. Replays showed Keane and two teammates clearly not closer to goal than the Morelia player as well as Villar when Gonzalez headed the ball towards the net, so the goal should have counted.
Two minutes into injury time, Sabah escaped Chad Barrett on a corner kick to nail a point-blank header that Saunders sprawled to parry, but the spinning ball eluded his grasp and rolled over the goal line.