The final score line doesn’t reflect the positives to take from a match in which the Union found themselves on the latter end of a 4-1 final at PPL Park against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Despite controlling the pace of play and having “the two-time defending champions on the ropes,” the Union dropped points at home for the second time this season as three goals in the final 20 minutes of play from Galaxy stars Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and second half substitute Hector Jimenez, snapped Los Angeles’ two-game unbeaten streak.
It also shattered the Union’s three-game unbeaten streak.
“I think we had the two-time defending champions on the rope in a big way,” said Union manager John Hackworth, postgame. “Just got to be able to sustain that…I think we got stretched and I don’t think we kept possession of the ball the same way we did in the first half. A lot of silly turnovers early in that second half and we never really got our momentum back, never really put the game on our terms again and that was problematic in the first 15 minutes.”
It would be the Union (4-4-3, 15 points) that struck first – but for Los Angeles as an attempted clear off a Donovan corner was able to find its way into the back of the net in just the third minute. The Union was on their heels, but took the game to the Galaxy (5-3-2, 17 points) and were rewarded in the 23rd minute when a long Sheanon Williams throw-in found the head of defender Amobi Okugo. The goal was Okugo’s second of the season and the third assist for Williams directly coming from his Weapon X restarts.
“I think we had this team for more than 40 minutes, I think we had a couple of opportunities to go up 2-1 on them to be honest,” said Williams. “The difference is that they finished their chances and we didn’t. I thought we did a good job for most of the game and whenever we get the chance to play them again we have to put forth a good effort for 90 minutes…if you want to take this as a 4-1 game then go for it, but we threw numbers forward knowing that we wanted to get points at home and [the Galaxy] punished us for it.”
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The big bright spot in this match was the play of midfielder Jose Kleberson, who exhibited a strong controlling presence in central midfield, creating space and playing perfectly timed and weighted balls in to space for players running forward.
It was refreshing to see from the Brazilian, who has yearned to get his chance to play in a regular season match.
And against the defending MLS champions he didn’t disappoint.
“I was looking forward to getting my first start and coming here, adjusting to the American game and waiting on the bench and observing it the past few weeks has been good for me,” Kleberson said via translator. “To get my first start tonight was a big deal for me and I am glad that John Hackworth had the faith in me and I was able to reward him for that confidence.”
Hackworth had this to say on Kleberson postgame:
“Jose did a good job in his first start and you see a lot of good qualities there,” said Hackworth. “Good performance by him especially the start. Probably tough for him to play 90, but you got to get those game minutes…we [as a coaching staff] were not thinking of playing him the full 90 but your thought is that you keep a guy of that quality in the game.”
Kleberson’s qualities could be back in action when the Union caps off a three-game in eight day stretch with a rubber match against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park Saturday (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org