The Los Angeles Galaxy were on the cusp of history. One more draw or victory would have given the Galaxy an MLS-record 13 match unbeaten streak to start off the season.
Instead, a bounce finally went against the Galaxy this season.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Javier Morales scored the game’s only goal as Real Salt Lake handed the Galaxy a 1-0 loss, the first setback of the Galaxy’s otherwise stellar campaign. Galaxy players, though, were vehement against the match official after the goal as Morales was standing behind the Galaxy’s defense when a ball went his way.
“The way we lost was pretty sickening,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We felt like we got cheated and that’s never a good feeling.”
With about 10 minutes remaining in the match, Pablo Campos’ pass attempt deflected off Michael Stephens. The ball skipped past Omar Gonzalez and fell to Morales’ feet, who easily slipped a ball past Donovan Ricketts and into the back of the net.
Galaxy players raised their hands and glanced towards the assistant referee, expecting to see the flag raised for an offside infraction.
“I couldn’t believe it," Dunivant said. "Morales was 10 yards behind our back line. It’s really no different than if they were to take a shot and it deflects off one of our guys and goes to Morales who is standing 10 yards behind our back line. It’s still offside. The linesman saw it and makes a judgment that it went off one of our guys, and that’s why it was not offside. After the game he admitted that he was wrong. What else can you say? He missed a call.”
Former Real Salt Lake star Clint Mathis, who came on late in the game, said the loss would have been just as tough to swallow no matter how the ball found the back of the net.
“It’s one of those things that happen," Mathis told MLSSoccer.com. "Whether it was offside or not, it’s a tough way to lose. That’s the way it is. That’s soccer and we just have to take it in stride.
"We’ve got a World Cup break now so we’ll just have to pick up where we left off against Toronto.”
The Galaxy not only saw their record fall to 10-1-2, but the team allowed a goal for the first time on the road all season. The goal also marked the first time the Galaxy were behind during a match.
Still, when the match was close enough to see a successful culmination to it but lose on a fluke play is tough, Dunivant said. What made it worse for the Galaxy was what happened after the goal was scored.
“The biggest mistake of the whole thing was the center ref did not go over to the linesman to confer with him,” Dunivant said. “Something that obvious and that blatantly wrong, there’s no reason the center ref can’t at least go to the sideline and talk with the assistant referee. That’s his job and he missed that. So you think, ‘Okay, he missed the call in real time but get it right, go over and talk to him.’”
With a while to go until the team’s next game, it may seem that this loss would hang around with the team more than usual but Dunivant insisted otherwise.
“This won’t linger," he said. "We’ve had an unbelievable season. It carried over from a great season last year so we’re going to keep going. We’re not going to let something like this let us down. We’re still a difficult team to beat, and we proved that again, and it took a fluke play like that—and an admittedly missed call by the referee—to have us lose a game.”