Another day, another late gut punch goal. This time the Fire can take some solace in knowing that they played 70 minutes down a man against one of the top sides in MLS and even took the lead in the 88th minute on a fantastically taken Collins John free kick.
Unfortunately, Omar Gonzalez' header in extra time continued the frustrating tendency to allow late goals making a playoff push even more difficult. However, unlike previous instances this goal was not the result of bad or careless marking. Gonzalez' header came from another corner kick but he was not blatantly left alone unmarked as was the case in some of the other late goal disappointments. Gonzalez was the recipient of a perfectly placed ball from Landon Donovan. The 6'-5" defender rose high above Wilman Conde and placed the ball perfectly into the net. Conde was in front of him, but this was the case of an all-star defender simply providing an all-star effort. Unfortunate for the Fire since picking up three points while a man down against Los Angeles would have been a fine result.
As it stands, another late goal turned celebration into frustration and makes Wednesday's match against Toronto FC an absoulte, must-have three point effort.
GK Sean Johnson (8) - Another impressive game from the rookie keeper. The highlight of the match for Johnson was a first half penalty kick stop against Landon Donovan. He also had a late save on Sean Franklin's 92nd minute shot. Registered seven total saves.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Played 20 solid minutes before being shown a straight red card for a purported elbow against Leonardo in the box. The ejection came after Segares got his arm up high from behind against the Galaxy defender in front of referee Mark Geiger. Leonardo appeared to resort to a bit of play acting but Segares did appear to make some contact with his arm or hand. The foul could easily have been overlooked but I can also see where Geiger may have seen an elbow or swipe worthy of a foul. The red card call was a bit much.
D Wilman Conde (6) - Was all over the field defensively shutting down LA passing lanes and attacks in an effort more reminiscent of the play that has earned him two all star game nods. The match tying goal is hard to pin on any one Fire defender since it was the result of a fine individual effort but Conde was the defender marking Gonzalez. Could have been a 7 if not for the goal.
D CJ Brown (6) - Solid again. The Galaxy had few clear chances in the box as the Fire did well to limit Edson Buddle's looks on goal. Donovan had an open header chance in the 39th minute that went wide.
D Steven Kinney (6) - The entire Fire defense played well especially considering they were forced to play a man down for most of the match. Alex Cazumba only had one dangerous play against Kinney, a cross in the 39th which resulted in the aforementioned Donovan header.
M Logan Pause (6) - Donovan didn't have much space to run at defenders since the Fire dropped back defensively after the red card, some of that can be attributed to the Pause-Thorrington combination in central midfield.
M John Thorrington (6) - Had a good look at goal which sailed high in the 26th minute. Provided a good chance from a free kick in the 70th minute and drew the fould which led to John's goal. Pause and Thorrington are the Fire's best central midfield combination so it will be interesting to see where Thorrington fits in with Ljungberg and Castillo both on the pitch at the same time.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Provided some spark early but trailed off in the second half as the Fire were forced to compensate for the loss of their left back. The Fire need Nyarko to regain his early season form quickly.
M Mike Banner (6) - Dropped back from left mid to left back after the red card. Moved back up to left mid after Krol entered the match in the second half.
F Nery Castillo (6) - Started the match at the withdrawn forward spot but was forced to left mid after Segares' ejection. Provided some brief glimpses of what the team was expecting while dribbling through defenders early. Castillo needs to be more attentive to the offsides position. Forced a diving Rickett's save from a free kick in the 53 minute. Probably Castillo's best effort in a Fire shirt so far, which isn't saying a whole lot.
F Brian McBride (6) - Did well tracking back as always but missed an open header in the 70th minute which probably could have been put away.
M Calen Carr (5) - Came on in the 69th minute for Castillo but didn't provide the spark that he had in previous matches. Not a whole lot of touches but not bad considering the circumstances. Moved to the lone forward spot briefly when McBride was subbed out.
D Krzyzstof Krol (6) - Entered the match in the 77th minute as a sub for McBride and did well defending Bryan Jordan. Also provided the initial pass which resulted in John's goal.
F Collins John (7) - Entered the match in the 82nd minute for Patrick Nyarko and made an almost immediate impact with a beautiful free kick goal in the 88th minute giving the Fire a brief lead and a chance to gain all three points. Had another chance before the whistle blew but the Galaxy defense closed it down.
The Fire host Toronto FC on Wednesday night. Toronto is terrible on the road and were blanked by FC Dallas this weekend.
I thought Dan Kelly and Chris Doran were excellent today but Jen Patterson started the post game interview with CJ Brown by commenting on the Fire's "tough loss". Brown immediately corrected her by exclaiming "Tie!".
Once again the previously promised half hour post game show lasted 10 minutes.
De Los Cobos Post Game Press Conference
De Los Cobos addressed late goals, Nery Castillo's play, and Collins John. Listen here.
Here's the Section 8 Tifo Display