By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – For all their success this season the LA Galaxy are a side that seem to rely on a fragile chemistry. Last week without David Beckham in the lineup they were forced to claw out an uninspired 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. Friday night, with Landon Donovan away on international duty, they lacked a cutting edge as they were held to a scoreless draw by D.C. United (4-4-4) in front a home crowd of just over 20,000.
“He’s an X-factor for sure and we missed that spark tonight,” said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant about Donovan. “We were pretty flat and we didn’t have any real explosive plays out there and that’s what he’s known for, so yeah we definitely missed that.”
While Donovan was away on national team duty, his closest competition for the MLS golden boot, D.C. United’s Charlie Davies got the start on the bench. The player was introduced late in the second half and in the 81st minute he used his breakaway speed to create what may have been United’s best chance of the game.
The on-loan forward was released by a through ball from midfield and made a break through the central defense drawing substitute keeper Josh Saunders off his line. However Davies was unable to get his foot around the shot properly and his effort went wide.
Throughout the encounter it was the visiting side that created the best chances. Just ten minutes into the first half United midfielder Chris Pontius got a shot off from distance that forced Saunders into his first save of the night.
Pontius shot again from outside the box in the 24th minute but Saunders was once again able to snuff out the danger.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena had few positive words to say about his side’s performance. However he was pleased with Saunders who is filling in while regular starting keeper Donovan Ricketts is away on national team duty with Jamaica.
“I think our goalkeeper played well,” said Arena. “And the fact that we got a point out of it was almost a miracle.”
Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall nearly scored in the 13th minute when he got off a shot from outside mid that forced D.C. keeper Bill Hamid into making a save. Galaxy forward Chad Barrett had a number of chances to score but put his efforts wide on at least three occasions.
Speaking after the match, Beckham pulled no punches on why his side had failed to garner an edge on the visitors.
“We obviously started flat we didn’t pass the ball well, we didn’t keep the ball, we couldn’t create space,” said Beckham. “I think it just went through the whole game. There wasn’t a moment, we had a couple good chances but it’s one of those nights that we just didn’t play well.”
In spite of the downbeat performance put on by the Galaxy (8-2-6), even Beckham was pleased to see Charlie Davies back in action. Coming on in the 67th minute, the former US international, who is currently on loan from French side Sochaux, showed flashes of the trademark breakaway speed he was known to possess prior to his near-fatal car accident in the fall of 2009.
“Its great to see him back playing after a horrific car accident,” said Beckham. “As a professional you want to see people come back from things like that and he has done and full credit to him.”
As the clock wound down it remained D.C. who looked the more likely to score. They nearly did in the 86th when Josh Wolff got off an on target shot from outside that forced Saunders into yet another save.
When the final whistle was blown, several members of the Galaxy camp were relieved to have at least drawn.
“Heavy legs, tired legs we didn’t have a good performance. Probably on the night we deserved zero points but we got one so I guess we take that as a positive,” said Dunivant. “Credit them they took us out of our rhythm and kind of killed the game off and made it one of the most boring games probably to watch in MLS.”
“Tonight was just one of those games where I don’t think either team was gonna score, especially us,” said Beckham. “We have to think positive we have to believe that we’re going in the right direction. We played a lot of games we’ve got a lot of points. We need to continue moving forward but we have to forget tonight.”
The Galaxy will have a week off before facing FC Toronto next week.