By: Alex Baker
Carson, CA – Landon Donovan was the last-minute hero again, as the Galaxy fought back from behind to register a 2-1 home win over DC United Saturday night. The first half was a static, scoreless draw while the second half was as open and entertaining a 45 minutes as any you are likely to see in MLS this season.
MLS league leaders LA Galaxy looked comfortable and in control from the start. However last place DC looked anything but intimidated and had several good first half chances themselves.
In the 22nd minute, Andy Najar cracked a shot off from the right flank that went just wide of the far post. Ten minutes later Pablo Hernandez fired a long ball in for Danny Allsop who was just a yard short of connecting with what would have been the opening goal. Then in the 43rd Hernandez fired a shot from distance that forced LA keeper Donovan Rickets into making a save. The Galaxy keeper fumbled his catch and came within an inch of letting the ball roll in a la’ Robert Green.
The home side also had chances come and go in the first half. In the 26th minute Alex Cazumba got off a good shot from the left that forced a save from United keeper, Troy Perkins. Then in the 43rd Dema Kovalenko nearly scored his second goal in two games when he cut inside and fired a shot on goal that was again saved by Perkins.
DC United started off the second half enjoying a good spell of possession. Galaxy head coach responded to his side’s inability to penetrate United’s defense by subbing in David Beckham for Jovan Kirovski in the 51st minute. The Galaxy immediately responded to the veteran midfielder’s presence on field by taking the initiative and launching a run on goal that saw Edson Buddle just fail to connect with a good cross from Todd Dunivant that would surely have opened the scoring.
Buddle nearly scored again moments later when he headed a cross from Donovan just wide of the far post. In the 55th minute Beckham proved he still had it when he fired a well-placed overhead ball in for Buddle, who was again unable to convert.
In the 57th minute it was DC on the attack again when Andy Najar laid a ball into the area. However Rickets reacted well and snuffed out the danger. DC could have scored again two minutes later when Allsop narrowly missed getting onto the end of a ball from Hernandez.
A minute later Buddle received another good long ball from Beckham but the striker’s lightweight chip was easily caught by Perkins. DC United scored the opening goal just seconds later when Najar caught a rebound off a ball Rickets failed to control and sent it in at the far corner.
Allsop nearly doubled DC’s lead in the 63rd when he shot from distance, beating Rickets but going just wide of target. As the match entered its final 25 minutes remaining, Galaxy were yet again chasing the game.
They came within a hair’s breadth of equalizing in the 69th minute when Eddie Lewis crossed the ball in for Donovan who had his shot snuffed out by the keeper. Then in the 75th Juninho fired in a shot from distance that also went wide of target.
Hernandez could have doubled United’s lead in the 77th when he shot on target, forcing Rickets into a diving save.
It all came down to Landon Donovan, who would again display his knack for taking games by the scruff of the neck. In the 81st minute the Galaxy captain took advantage of a defensive error, broke through United’s backline, outmaneuvered Perkins and almost casually slotted home the equalizer. Five minutes later the USA midfielder received a good cross from Tristan Bowen and headed the ball into the top corner, snatching a lead for the home side.[picappgallerysingle id=”9810863″]
Now it was DC who were left to chase the game as the match entered it’s final few minutes. In the 88th minute Najar received a good ball in on a set piece but headed it just wide of target.
The last chance of the match fell to David Beckham who fired off a cracking long-distance effort that was saved by Perkins in extra time. The final whistle was blown moments later with Galaxy having shown their true class to emerge the winners at 2-1.
Galaxy maintain their place at the top of the table as they head towards a marquee match-up with NY Red Bulls next week. Meanwhile United remain at the bottom of the table as they head into their next league encounter against the Houston Dynamo