WASHINGTON, D.C. – The LA Galaxy had managed to frustrate D.C. United for 90 minutes. Mike Magee had scored in the first half to give the Galaxy the advantage, Santino Quaranta had been sent off, and only stoppage time stood between the Galaxy and three points at RFK Stadium.
But there was still enough time for Charlie Davies to draw and score a controversial penalty in the last minute of regular time, meaning Los Angeles had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw against United.
Davies seemed to go down easily during a challenge from Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, and drew the ire of LA manager Bruce Arena.
“The officiating in this league is what it is,” Arena said after the match. “Unfortunately, we are all conditioned to it now anyway.”
The Galaxy had to deal with the loss of captain Landon Donovan, after he had picked up a knock during the week. Without the American talisman in the game, LA had to adapt, and David Beckham and Juninho were given more responsibility in the middle of the field to clog up the United attack.
“You play plenty of games in the league without all your players,” Arena said. “It’s just another game that we had to deal with an injury, and your team learns to deal with it.”
Without Donovan in attack, Los Angeles struggled to get going offensively for much of the match. But with one of Beckham’s signature set piece deliveries, the Galaxy took the lead in the 12th minute through Mike Magee. After Quaranta was sent off for United in the 84th minute, three points looked like a mere formality for Los Angeles.
The stage was set then to upset that notion. Davies worked his way into the box in the 89th minute, and, as he tried to move past Gonzalez, he fell, drawing the immediate call from referee Abiodun Okulaja, much to the dismay of the Los Angeles players.
“Every time I am one on one, I am going to go at you,” Davies told reporters after the match. “I was able to take a good step over and get by Omar [Gonzalez], but he put his arm up into my chest, and knocked me off balance.
“That’s a penalty.”
While the home fans went home with at least a point to celebrate, a troubling trend continued for United. Although they have scored in all four games this season, United failed to really threaten the goal from open play during the game. The fact that it took a penalty to earn the draw should be cause for some concern.
The lack of a final ball was the consensus blame amongst the United players and coaching staff after the game, as the team lamented the fact that chances in the game were few and far between against a team that looked to limit the chances.
“I don’t think the final ball was very good,” said United manager Ben Olsen after the game. “Overall, I just thought we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We just weren’t a good enough soccer team.”
Davies now leads the league in goals, with four on the season. The caveat being, of course, that three of his four goals have come from the penalty spot. Although the trend at the moment says otherwise, United won’t draw a penalty in every game. Which means that at some point, goals will have to come from open play.
“We need to become a better soccer team,” Olsen said in the press conference after the match. “We need to become a better passing team, and realize when it’s time to play, and when it’s time to lump balls.”
For more MLS news and commentary, follow Steven Streff on Twitter @streffsoccer
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