The LA Galaxy’s Jonathan Bond has led Major League Soccer for most, if not all, of this season in saves, and he may not have a bigger one than his brilliant stop that occurred late in Monday’s nerve-wracking, 1-1 tie with Seattle at Lumen Field.
The Galaxy were trying to salvage a draw when, in the second minute of stoppage time, João Paulo lofted a corner kick into the Galaxy’s penalty area. A leaping Xavier Arreaga headed the ball toward the net for what looked to be a game-winning goal, but Bond somehow got his hand up and deflected the attempt off the crossbar. Galaxy defender Nick DePuy then cleared the ball out of trouble and the Galaxy were rewarded with an important point in their desperate race for a postseason berth.
Just how important? The Galaxy (13-12-8) are tied for sixth in the West with Vancouver at 47 points. Vancouver and LAFC (44 points) play each other Tuesday, and only one of them can pass Los Angeles. In fact, the Galaxy would pass Minnesota United (fifth with 48 points) and finish above the conference playoff line if they beat the Loons at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday (3 p.m., Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes) regardless of any other result.
“We’ve had to play Minnesota away twice, so it’s about time they come to us,” Bond said. “Hopefully we can go about our business and get three points.”
The Galaxy wouldn’t be in this position if not for Bond’s stunning, reaction save which might have caused head coach Greg Vanney’s heart to stop.
“It all happened so fast,” a grinning Vanney told reporters after the game. “I’m not sure if my heart had time to stop.”
Bond said the pivotal play looked dangerous from the moment the ball left Mior’s feet.
“It was a good ball. It was flat, it was straight on his head and it was just like an instinctive reaction,” he said. “Then just relieved it hit the bar and went to Nick and he cleared it. Then I thought we were going to score on the counter-attack and that we would really be flying then.
“Obviously it’s an important moment and an important point.”
Bond said the Galaxy are feeling optimistic despite a recent run in which they’ve won only two of their last 14 games (2-7-5).
“I think we’ve made progress, especially since the last game we came in here,” he said, referring to a 3-0 loss to the Sounders in early May. “Today we could have been two or three up before they really got hold of the game. From that point of view, it’s definitely an improvement.
“I still think we have a lot of improving to do. We have a lot of young players. We have a lot of new players. We’re trying to build something that’s not just here and now. I think we’re not in a bad place. I think the point today actually was a big point.”
Bond, for one, can’t wait for Sunday with the Galaxy’s playoff hopes certain to be on the line.
“We feel confident,” he said. “We just came into a difficult place and got a point. We’re doing all right.
“I think we’re in a good place and I think it’s not just about winning the game (on Sunday), and I think we’ll be in. We’re going to be in front of our home fans, and hopefully, they come out in numbers and carry us over the line.”