Reaction: Late penalties ruin Crew's effort in LA

Controversial penaty calls in final minutes spell defeat for Black & Gold

Federico Higuain

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

Through the first 80 minutes of Thursday's match against the LA Galaxy, Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was riding his best performance of the 2013 season and in line for the victory following Bernardo Anor's 78th minute tally. But referee Sorin Stoica would make two controversial penalty calls in the final minutes to reverse the Black & Gold's fortunes as Robbie Keane would bury both attempts from the spot to lift the Galaxy to victory.

The first penalty call came when Gruenebaum left his line to smother Jose Villareal's run into the box. Villareal took a heavy touch to knock the ball out of Gruenebaum's reach and went down with when making contact with the Crew 'keeper in the 85th minute. Sealing the Crew's fate, the second penalty was whistled in the first minute of second-half stoppage time when Keane went down in the box following a brush with Anor.

The two penalties erased a standout performance from Gruenebaum and the Columbus backline, which featured the centerback tandem of Chad Marshall and Danny O'Rourke for the first time in 2013.

"We were leaking goals, so obviously we tried to put some guys in different positions," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said after the match. "I think today, they stood up and they played very well. Obviously in the end we gave up two penalties, but I think the defense was tremendous.

"Luck is not on our side, to be honest with you. We have to work harder."

Moving forward, it will surely be an exhausting three days for Warzycha's side as it will fly back to Columbus on Friday and train on Saturday before hosting the Portland Timbers on Sunday (TICKETS). The Timbers are unbeaten in 15 matches, while the Crew will hope to break a three-game losing streak.