Galaxy keep CCL quarterfinal hopes alive as Juninho game winner buries Morelia

MikeMageeGoalCeleb (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by Mike Janosz/ISIPhotos.com

By ADAM SERRANO

CARSON, Calif.– With their dreams of a place in the Champions League quarterfinals fading fast, the Los Angeles Galaxy produced the same sort of late-game magic they produced the last time they faced Morelia.

Only this time there was no referee's call to negate a dramatic game-winning goal.

Juninho's goal off a corner kick in second-half stoppage time gave the Galaxy a thrilling 2-1 victory over Morelia on Wednesday night to preserve the Galaxy's hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.

After falling to Monarcas in controversial fashion in their last meeting, the fact that Juninho's goal was nearly a carbon copy of the second-half stoppage time goal taken away from Robbie Keane for an incorrect offside call felt like poetic justice for the Galaxy.

"Given what happened in Morelia, we felt that it was a little bit unjustified," said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. "The world has a crazy way of working out when you do things the right way. I'm proud of our guys for continuing to put in the effort and have the attitude that we could still get that goal and it paid off."

Despite missing David Beckham to suspension, and Robbie Keane and Sean Franklin to injury, the Galaxy pushed Morelia early on in the match.  Los Angeles broke through in the 21st minute when Mike Stephens sent in a looping ball to Todd Dunivant, who fired a cross to Mike Magee. Using Adam Cristman as a screen, Magee blasted a shot past Federico Villar to give the Galaxy an early lead.

After the goal, Morelia came alive and began to press the Galaxy for the equalizer. Despite missing midfield maestro Joao Rojas, Morelia was able to take control of the match later in the first half and into the second half. With their foot on the pedal throughout during the second half, Morelia found the tying goal in the 61st minute when a Bryan Jordan deflection fell into the box to a waiting Rafael Marquez Lugo, who slotted it past Josh Saunders.

Rather than hold for the draw, Morelia's head coach Tomas Boy went for the jugular, inserting Miguel Sabah and Aldo Ramirez just moments after the goal, but the Galaxy defense held firm.

As Los Angeles pressed for a winner, Morelia nearly found their own game winner as Damian Manso rattled the crossbar in the 80th minute after beating Saunders. Just seven minutes later, Ramirez broke through the Galaxy defense and hit a shot from close range just wide of Saunders net.

After two close misses, the Galaxy began to throw caution to the wind, throwing numbers at the Morelia net. Earrning two quick corner kicks in the last three minutes, the Galaxy began to create on set pieces. Then a minute into stoppage time, Donovan's third corner kick in five minutes found the head of Chad Barrett, who headed back to a lurking Juninho. The Brazilian midfielder did not disappoint, firing a shot that beat Villar before ending the night with a traditional brazilian capoeira celebration.

After Juninho's goal, the Galaxy stared at the officials, but this time there was no linesman's flag to take this victory away.

"I wasn't expecting the ball, it was a complicated ball and obviously, it was a lot of training on my part to get me there to score the goal," said Juninho. "We needed to win and especially get three points at home and now we're still alive in the tournament."

Although the match served as arguably the most important win for the Galaxy so far this season, it was played in front of a heavily pro-Morelia crowd of 7,500 at the Home Depot Center. Attendance for the match was capped at 7,500 due to parking concerns for classes at nearby Cal State-Dominguez Hills.

Both teams will look to Thursday when Club Motagua travel to Alajuelense. A victory for Alajuelense and three teams will be locked in with nine points going into the final match day. The Costa Ricans will then face off against Morelia at the Estadio Morelos on October 18th, two days before the Galaxy take on Motagua in Honduras. A victory against last-place and winless Motagua will clinch the Galaxy's place into the quarterfinals.

"We win and we're in, that's what you want," said Dunivant. "You want to have that opportunity at the end of six games and we have that. It won't be easy going into their stadium and winning there, but that has to be our job and our focus and if we do that, we're through."

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19 Responses to Galaxy keep CCL quarterfinal hopes alive as Juninho game winner buries Morelia

  1. TommyOC says:

    Was at the game this evening. LA Galaxy supporters were outnumbered but way more well-coordinated than the Morelia fans. On that note, Morelia fans: Take a joke. If you can’t out-chant someone, it’s not a reason to threaten violence on others.

    Also, the trash-throwing? Seriously? How classless must you be?

    On that note, anyone else see Juninho give the Morelia fans the ol’ bicep slap several times over after scoring his goal? And the rest of the team didnt appreciate their behavior either – post-game celebrations saw many of them expressing their distaste for Morelia fans’ behavior. Go Galaxy!!

  2. Dan says:

    Whats worst classless fans or classless players?

  3. Rev up those Revs says:

    Judging by that photo, no one was at that game. We’ll have to take your word for it.

  4. Brian S. says:

    I’m glad LA won but how was that last goal not offsides. The keeper was clearly shielded by an offside player when the shot was hit.

  5. bohawk says:

    Looks like a big turn out

  6. read says:

    technically it was a sell out
    …”heavily pro-Morelia crowd of 7,500 at the Home Depot Center. Attendance for the match was capped at 7,500 due to parking concerns for classes at nearby Cal State-Dominguez Hills.”

  7. PseudoNEmous Commenter says:

    It’s a pretty hilarious picture, but the stands were closed off on one side. The LA play by play announcer said it was a new arrangement they were trying, I think. Anyhow, it made it look a lot fuller on TV, since they usually showed the non-empty side. At least there weren’t huge tarps over the empty seats like at Gillette.

  8. Dan says:

    I saw that too. Hopefully those making conspiracy theories realize that refs just suck.

  9. Greg says:

    Have they ever capped attendance at 7,500 for an MLS match? That’s disgraceful.

  10. Like ‘Read’ said above, only for mid week matches while Cal State Dominguez Hills is in session for classes . . .

  11. ViperLAG says:

    Rev – sadly, the Galaxy were restricted on the # of fans that could attend the match during a weekday when the stadium is on the grounds of a State University. My acct person (I am a Galaxy season ticket holder) told me they could only sell up to 7,500 tickets for a stadium that holds 27,000. All the fans were localized to the west side of the stadium, thus from the angle of the picture taken after Magee’s goal, you were seeing the east side of the stadium, which of course was empty. But I would have to concur with Tommy OC – I to attended the match and after the Galaxy scored the winning goal in ET the Morelia fans started throwing trash onto the field and at LA fans, including myself. Pathetic.

  12. ViperLAG says:

    Greg, only for midweek matches due to the fact that the stadium sits on the property of Cal State Dominguez Hills and parking is at a premium for college students. That being said, this was NOT an MLS match but a CONCACAF Champions League match. MLS had nothing to do with this.

  13. bryan says:

    i thought about that too. and while he technically does not interfere, it would be naive to say he didn’t somewhat shield the vision of the keeper.

  14. beachbum says:

    conspiracy theories? there’s cheating in world football. Did you see Platini’s plea yesterday? pretend it doesn’t exist if you want to, but the fact is that it’s epidemic, not theory.

    further, and on a different note completely, must make sure at the least that officials are chosen from nations not represented in the pool. How can an official even be expected to judge impartially in that situation?

  15. TommyOC says:

    You don’t come into someone’s home, bask in their hospitality – they let you sit anywhere you wanted and didn’t put you behind heavy fencing like they do in Mexico – and then physically threaten and throw trash at the hosts.

    Once that happens, the hosts are entitled to act act however they please.

  16. Turd Ferguson says:

    That was the most intense game of the season, hands down. I couldn’t make it to the HDC last night, but I’ve never yelled and cheered some much in my own home before last night.

  17. soccerhorn says:

    I was at the game last night. Morelia fans outnumbered Galaxy fans, but not by as much as some would have you believe. More importantly, the LA fan clubs – ACB and Riot Squad – completely outdid their opposite number, singing and chanting throughout the night, and drowning out Morelia supporters. Ok, Morelia was better at yelling “puto” when Saunders hit goal kicks. I’ll give them that. Oh, and they’re better at swilling beer. The men’s room lines at halftime were epic, and entirely filled with red-eyed dudes in red and yellow shirts. The beer guzzling showed too, at the end of the game, when the Morelia fans started hurling trash at the Galaxy players as they were leaving the field. Classy. Another feather in the cap for the Mexican-AMERICAN soccer community.

    That said – the game was fantastic. It’s a shame Galaxy can’t work a better deal with Cal State Dominguez Hills. And isn’t Galaxy due to host a weeknight playoff game? Are they seriously going to do the “half stadium” thing for a nationally televised MLS playoff game?! Hey, Phil Anschutz, time to open up your checkbook!

  18. Dominghosa says:

    An attendance comment from a Revs fan. Hilarious.

  19. TommyOC says:

    +100