Major League Soccer's two most trophy-laden clubs faced off in the Home Depot Center, as the Los Angeles Galaxy and D.C. United drew 2-2. United gave up a comfortable two goal lead as Landon Donovan scored a brace in the last ten minutes.
United head coach Tom Soehn watched what was looking to be a comfortable away win for his side in the opening game of their season melt away into a mere point.
“Ultimately, LA never gave up; you've got to give them credit for that,” he said after the match. “But to come out with one point, we're disappointed.”
He cited a clash of heads between two of his players as a major turning point. Devon McTavish and Greg Janicki collided craniums as they both went for the same ball. As they lay sprawled and bleeding on the ground, Galaxy continued their attack. According to new FIFA law, only referees are supposed to stop play for injuries, and are to use their discretion about the severity of injury.
“They both have big cuts, deep gashes,” explained Soehn. “That's why I was so disappointed in the reffing. They've talked about not kicking the ball out of bounds, and it's referee's discretion as to when to stop the game. You could hear that clash. You've got to use common sense and stop the game when there's two guys laying down with bleeding heads.”
United went down to nine men, as they waited to see if either player would be able to return. Eventually, Janicki did slot back into the defense, albeit with a gauze-wrapped head. However, moments later, United conceded the first. A Chris Klein cross was deflected by rookie fullback Rodney Wallace out of bounds, and referee Jair Marrufo whistled a penalty for a handball.
Klein was standing only a few feet away. He admitted that the call was a poor one, as the ball hit Wallace's thigh, but hailed the character and resilience his side showed to stay in the game.
“I haven't seen the replay, but I know it didn't hit his hand,” he said. “You get some of those calls, and I thought for the most part we carried good stretches of the game. We made mistakes, but you need calls like that every once in a while. I'm not going to worry too much about it.
“From a character standpoint I thought we showed a good resilience to come back and get two goals in the last ten minutes of the game.”
One United player who showed resilience was captain Ben Olsen. The former U.S. international is working his way back onto the pitch after a series of injuries that have laid him off for several seasons now.
Transformed from an all-action winger into a defensive midfielder, Olsen lasted 72 minutes. He showed typical restraint when asked about his performance.
“I think overall I'd give myself a D+,” he said, after discussing how disappointing conceding two late goals was.
“Referees make mistakes. We make mistakes. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating.”
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com