“Gray areas” as Galaxy ties SKC 2-2

LA Galaxy ties SKC 2-2 as Javier Hernandez does not convert penalty kick at Dignity Health Sports Park

Los Angeles – “Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.”

This beauty of a quote is spoken by Rosie Perez, as Gloria Clemente in the 1992 basketball film, “White Men Can’t Jump.” 

“Gray areas” as Galaxy ties SKC 2-2 at Dignity Health Sports Park

Embed from Getty Images

But it just as easily could have come out of the Los Angeles Galaxy locker room after L.A. lost a lead, came back to tie 2-2, and Galaxy Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández had a stoppage-time Panenka penalty saved at home against Sporting Kansas City in a spot kick-filled affair on Sunday evening.

And while it may be easy to blame Chicharito for failing to convert to seal the win, the Galaxy as a team didn’t “extract” the three points they needed over the course of the match.

They got off to a dream start, though, as the Galaxy captain scored in four minutes for his 200th career club goal and 14th of the MLS campaign.

Riqui Puig found Víctor Vázquez with an excellent long pass from his own half, for Vázquez to collect and play Chicharito in behind the SKC defense with an outside-of-the-foot pass. Chicharito collected in stride and buried his right-footed shot into the back of the net for the early 1-0 Galaxy lead.  

The rest of the half saw L.A. control possession through their midfield, passing around SKC at will, but with very little end product after the opener.

“In my opinion, we should have created more chances,” Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney said. “I think there was more opportunity there for us than we allowed ourselves to take advantage of.”

SKC strikes first in the second half

It would come back to haunt them, as Sporting Kansas City would strike first in the second half to tie the game on 67 minutes.

After Derrick Williams was whistled for a handball inside the box, SKC Captain Johnny Russell stepped up to take the game’s first penalty, which Galaxy Keeper Jonathan Bond almost saved, but instead parried off the post and in for the 1-1 scoreline.

 

Less than 10 minutes later, the Galaxy had lost their lead for the third time in the last four games.

After receiving a long pass and cutting in from the left wing, midfielder Felipe Hernandez’s shot was deflected off Julian Araujo and into the top corner of goal to put SKC ahead 2-1 on 76 minutes.

Galaxy tie it up

It would set up tense 14-plus minutes of game time, in which the Galaxy would get two penalty kicks, tasting both sweet and sour.

After turning away from pressure, Puig played another inch-perfect pass, this time to Kévin Cabral, who took his touch past Sporting Keeper John Pulskamp and allowed himself to be brought down for the penalty.

Chicharito calmly blasted his shot into the left-hand corner of the net to tie the score 2-2 in 88 minutes, with time left to win the match.

The Galaxy would get the chance to do so deep into stoppage time after substitute Samuel Grandsir headed a cross into SKC defender Kayden Pierre’s arm in the box to earn the game’s third penalty.

Chicharito would step up again, this time to complete his hat trick and seal all three points for L.A. 

The Panenka seen throughout the world

Only this time he made himself go viral, not by scoring, but by attempting a Panenka that didn’t even threaten to fool Pulskamp to keep the score 2-2 where the game would end.  

“Like I said to the fans, to everyone over here, I am not going to play the victim. I am sorry, of course, I am sorry. It’s a very key play. It’s like if I had a one-versus-one at the end of the game and I miss it. It’s the same, just this is a penalty, it’s more obvious, Chicharito explained while speaking of the “bittersweet” moments during the match where he was both hero and villain. “I scored two goals and we draw. We did a pretty good effort. It wasn’t that bad, but in the end, it’s a mistake, I feel responsible that we couldn’t get the two points that we lost to get the win.”

Vanney kept his captain accountable, while also calling out the rest of the team for their part. 

“It was the wrong decision. The wrong decision. He knows that. He knows how I feel. He knows how his teammates feel. It is what it is. We’ve just got to keep moving forward, and we lost an opportunity there in the end,” Vanney confessed. “But again, we gave up two goals just by letting guys just run behind us. It’s nonsense. Like, this has to stop.” 

Gray Areas as Galaxy ties SKC 2-2 with late missed penalty

Despite more dropped points at home and more to SKC, battling back to earn the draw extended the Galaxy’s unbeaten run to five matches (2-0-3).  

Never ones to make things easy on themselves, there were, as Chicharito said, “gray areas” in this Galaxy, SKC tie. 

“There are gray moments… I scored two, and I missed the most important play of the game, then we get a point, but it’s in our home, so it’s not that great. There are gray areas, I think that’s a good way of saying it because I scored two goals. Without the other two goals, we couldn’t draw.”

The Galaxy needed more than a draw to keep pace in the Western Conference, where they started the day in eighth place. Time is running out for them if they are to secure a playoff berth.

They will now travel to fourth-place Nashville SC next Saturday, hoping to “extract” a win that feels like a win.