Galaxy Draw DC United Late With Donovan Brace

Led by Landon Donovan, the Los Angeles Galaxy fought back from a two-goal deficit to DC United in the final ten minutes of the match.
The Los Angeles Galaxy were losing badly to DC United and unable to score a goal when fortune smiled on them and led by Landon Donovan, they made the most of it, salvaging a 2-2 draw with two late goals.

In the start of the match, the Galaxy's young backline of Sean Franklin, A.J. De La Garza and Omar Gonzalez, with an average age of 22 aside from 37-year-old veteran Tony Sanneh, looked to be an energetic improvement over the last season. Franklin, playing on the right, made a number of runs up the wing that contributed to the Galaxy attack.

Yet though the Galaxy had a few chances in the early going, their runs seemed a bit mistimed and their connection was lacking.

The players with the majority of the ball possession seemed to be the DC back four, as the Galaxy players crowded the midfield and waited to intercept passes, allowing the high line of DC to pass the ball back and forth.

Christian Gomez, however, was a particularly lively player for DC in the midfield, as if returning to his first MLS team put an extra spring in his step. He had an early shot in the 14th minute that was saved easily by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, but Gomez was showing incentive in both making the run and attempting the shot.

The Galaxy's best chance in the first half took place when Chris Klein served an ideal cross that cleared the defense in the 20th minute, falling into the open space in front of DC goalkeeper Josh Wicks. Donovan outraced his defender to the ball, and with his first touch cut the ball to the side of the onrushing Wicks, but missed the net by about a foot.

Though the Galaxy had perhaps the slightly better opportunities in the half, it was DC United who broke through with a goal just before the period ended.

In the 43rd minute, as Gomez broke through two defenders into the box, new Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko rashly pulled his former teammate down and the assistant referee nodded at game referee Jair Marrufo, who then pointed to the spot for the penalty kick.

Gomez calmly put DC United ahead, and the Galaxy went into the break down at home.

In the second half, the DC United looked to consolidate their lead with a stretch of passing play that put the Galaxy on their heels, scrambling to defend their goal.

In the 54th, forward Luciano Emilio broke behind the Galaxy defense, who were slightly confused because Chris Pontius was offside. Emilio took advantage of Pontius being ruled to as a passive participant. Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders came off his line to challenge Emilio and was able to get a hand on the shot.

However, Pontius put his side up by another goal less than ten minutes later. With DC United pressing and circling the Galaxy goal, Pontius cut the ball back against the marking of Franklin and found some open space on the edge of the box. He unleashed a bending shot that traveled past the reach of Saunders and into the side netting.

"The lack of communication was between Franklin and Kovalenko," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena later explained. "We didn't do well on that play."

As the Galaxy tried to rally from two goals down, two DC United players suffered a ghastly collision when Devon McTavish and Greg Janicki banged heads on a play where McTavish cleared a ball. The referee did not blow the whistle immediately even though the players began bleeding.

DC United was perhaps shaken up by the turn of events, as it was soon after that they conceded a penalty on a dubious handball call. Rodney Wallace seemed to turn away from a ball that bounced strangely after it hit his thigh, but although his arm was nearby, the contact was slight at most.

Still it gave the Galaxy a slight opening, and Donovan made sure to convert the 80th minute penalty chance.

Five minutes later, Donovan found the equalizer. Galaxy substitute Kyle Patterson sent in a lofted cross. Donovan took off as soon as the ball was struck. He ghosted behind the defense, where he waited as other players tried in vain to leap and clear the ball. As the orb dropped, Donovan headed the tying goal into the net.

As might be expected, the reaction of the coach who was once two goals up was different than the one who made up that difference.

"We come away a little disappointed," said DC's Tom Soehn. "I thought we deserved more at the end."

Arena was more philosophical. "The part that we feel good about is the effort by the guys. The part that we don't feel good about is that our soccer could have been better."

Noting that both teams were missing key players due to injuries, Arena concluded, "Maybe at the end of the day, the result is fair."

Andrea Canales, Goal.com