Galaxy forward Chad Barrett tries to chase down the ball against FC Dallas… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Last season the Galaxy bludgeoned teams on their way to a Major League Soccer title. This year, however, many of their victories have been of the moral variety.
But hey, a win's a win, right?
Take Saturday, for example, when the Galaxy scored two minutes into stoppage time to escape with a 1-1 tie with FC Dallas.
And they did it behind a backup goalkeeper playing his first MLS game in nearly six years and a goal from a player who has started just twice in the last two seasons.
With regular keeper Josh Saunders unavailable for what Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena called "personal reasons," the team turned to Bill Gaudette, whose last MLS win came in September 2006.
And Gaudette proved nothing but solid, making four saves — three in spectacular fashion.
He was mostly blameless on FC Dallas' goal, which came early in the second half on a Brek Shea penalty kick that was set up by a defensive mistake.
The sequence started with Jair Benitez sending a cross into the area for Blas Perez. Well-positioned Galaxy defender David Junior Lopes got in front of the ball, but he inexplicably chested it toward his own net — and when Gaudette scrambled after the ball, Perez tripped over him, drawing the foul.
Shea then converted the penalty, chipping in a soft left-footed shot that ruined an otherwise solid performance by the keeper.
"Gaudette played really well," Arena said of the 30-year-old, who signed with the Galaxy in February after four seasons with second-tier teams in Puerto Rico and Canada. "He's an experienced goalkeeper, and that's why he's here."
The Galaxy's goal came from Pat Noonan, capping a furious rally in which the Galaxy peppered the Dallas net with five shots in the final nine minutes.
And even then, it's a goal the Galaxy wouldn't have gotten if Benitez had been able to clear the ball from in front of his goal.
Instead, it ricocheted out to Noonan, who came on in the 81st minute, and he drove it home from about 14 yards out, allowing the Galaxy to escape with a result.
"To get a goal in extra time, you can't complain about getting a point," Arena said
They might well have gotten more though, had Robbie Keane, the Galaxy's leading scorer, not missed the net completely on a penalty shot in the 49th minute. The foul was called on the active Benitez, who knocked Donovan down in the area, and it was the first penalty taken by a Galaxy player other than Donovan since June 2007.
But Keane pushed his shot well wide to the right side.
"Robbie wanted to take the kick, and Landon said fine," Arena said.
As for Gaudette, Dallas set out to test him from the start with Shea and Fabian Castillo each getting off good shots in the opening minute. Gaudette then came up big in the 18th minute when George John redirected a Daniel Hernandez free kick, forcing the keeper to make a diving one-handed save.
Three minutes later, Gaudette fisted away a low, bending bullet from Shea that was headed for the near corner.
And four minutes into the second half he made a diving right-handed save on a Perez header just inside the far post.