CARSON -- Alan Gordon was serenaded with “Galaxy reject!” chants and took a good deal of smack talk from his old friends, then pulled off something really special in his SoCal homecoming Saturday night.
The former Galaxy and Chivas USA striker came off the bench to score twice -- the second a scintillating blast to the upper-left corner nearly four minutes into stoppage time -- and give lowly Toronto FC a 2-2 draw with L.A.
His goals answered Chris Birchall's strike just 97 seconds into the game and Juan Pablo Angel's would-be winner in the first minute of stoppage as the Reds (2-5-8) notched their second draw this season with MLS's top side in a game they deserved more from.
It was the second straight subpar performance for the Galaxy (8-2-7), who settled for another draw just a week after holding off D.C. United in a 0-0 tie.
Gordon, who played for the Galaxy from 2004 until a trade to Chivas USA last August, returned from an adductor strain to make his first appearance since May 4 and score his fourth goal against a former club. He tallied for Chivas USA in a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy last October and scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with the Goats at the beginning of April.
“I think I have 75 percent of my goals against former teams,” he joked afterward. (He doesn't; he has 21 career MLS goals.) “It was fun. It was just another game. It's nothing special. Just a game in the league. I scored two goals. It was a good night.”
Nothing special, huh? Hard to believe that watching the joy in his celebration, especially after goalkeeper Stefan Frei's free kick bounced from his head to A.J. DeLaGarza and onto his foot for the rocket that silenced a Galaxy crowd that had given him his share of abuse.
“It was special,” Gordon conceded. “I don't score goals like that, so to get it against my former team in the 94th minute -- of course, it was special.”
It spoiled a perfect finish for the Galaxy, with Angel volleying home a blocked shot in the 91st minute to provide a 2-1 advantage.
“I thought it was the winning goal, so it meant a lot,” said Angel, who has just three goals this season. “It was a very tight game, we didn't have anything else going, and that particular chance went in. So I was very happy and very excited, like everyone else. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.”
Not with Gordon on fire.
“Gordo scored probably one of the best goals he's scored,” said David Beckham, who grew close to Gordon when they were teammates. “It happens. But we have to be a bit more smarter than that … maybe mark a little better in the last minute of the game.”
Galaxy defender Sean Franklin noted he doesn't “know if he'll ever hit a goal like his second one again,” but Birchall was more philisophical.
“You could tell Gordo was going to come on and do damage,” he said. “Seems like fate, really.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: Gordon has to be one of the frontrunners for MLS's Player of the Week honor. (And he'd win Goal of the Week, no question, if not for Eric Hassli's stunner for Vancouver at Seattle.) He brought tremendous energy to the Reds, dominated his aerial battles and scored a fine goal to pull TFC even midway through the second half and a spectacular strike at the finish. Also superb: Frei.
Best of the batch for L.A. was Franklin, who made three big defensive plays in the Galaxy box and provided good attacking support with runs up the right flank.
BEST GOAL: Gordon's final equalizer was a real gem. It came from a free kick deep in Toronto territory, with Frei's long ball finding Gordon just outside the box. He headed it up, then collected the bounce when the ball went off DeLaGarza, who was battling Maicon Santos at the top of the box. His blast caromed in off the right post right where it meets the crossbar.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: The Galaxy clearly is missing Landon Donovan, whether or not they want to admit it, and Juninho's absence left nobody in midfield capable of linking up with the attack or spreading the ball around the park.
They started in something akin to a 4-3-1-2 alignment -- Beckham called it a “diamond,” although it wasn't pure -- with Miguel Lopez directly behind Angel and Chad Barrett, but “we was getting in each other's ways at times,” as Beckham put it. And so scoring chances after Birchall's beginning were few and far between.
More problematic, in the grand scheme, was the inability to defend on Gordon's decisive goal.
“We had a bunch of guys standing around,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “We got outcompeted at the end of the game on that play.”
WORTH NOTING: Birchall, in his third season with the Galaxy, netted his first MLS goal and his second for L.A. -- the first was in a preseason exhibition last season against Costa Rican club Puntarenas. “It's been a long time coming,” he said. “The guys have been giving me a little stick, but a few people tonight said I'd get my goal.” … Maicon Santos hit the crossbar with a dipping shot in the 70th minute. ... Beckham picked up a first-half yellow card, but that suspension he was facing? Forget it. He needs one more caution for the ban. The league was in error when it reported otherwise. … TFC coach Aron Winter had to make two injury substitutions in the first half. Joao Plata came on in the 34th minute when a late Beckham challenge -- the one he saw yellow over -- left midfielder Tony Tchani with an injured left ankle; he had to be stretchered off the field. Gordon came on after midfielder Jacob Peterson's tweaked his ailing hamstring in the closing minutes of the half.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “Disappointing,” Angel said. “We didn't play particularly well, and when you manage to score a goal that late in the game, it should be enough to get three points. But we weren't able to hold onto the result, so ... disappointing.”
NEXT: Saturday, June 18, at Colorado, 6 p.m. PT (Fox Sports West, delayed, 8 p.m.)
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 2, Toronto FC 2
LA -- Chris Birchall (Miguel Lopez) 2
T -- Alan Gordon (Danleigh Borman, Mikael Yourassowsky) 68
LA -- Juan Pablo Angel 91+
T -- Alan Gordon 94+
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Chris Birchall, David Beckham, Michael Stephens (Bryan Jordan, 81); Chad Barrett, Miguel Lopez (Paolo Cardozo, 81), Juan Pablo Angel. Unused subs: Gregg Berhalter, Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Mike Magee, Brian Perk.
Toronto FC: Stefan Frei; Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Doneil Henry, Danleigh Borman; Nathan Sturgis; Nick Soolsma (Javier Martina, 91+), Jacob Peterson (Alan Gordon, 43), Tony Tchani (Joao Plata, 34), Mikael Yourassowsky.
Yellow cards: Borman 17, Beckham 29, Henry 58, Gordon 81, DeLaGarza 83.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik. Att.: 20,675.