DC Trumps LA in Final Seconds

The LA Galaxy traveled up to the nations capital and came up short in a 1-0 defeat to DC United after a late goal in stoppage time by Chris Pontius to give the win for DC United. “Wow” is all I could come up with after the late game winner for DC United, after a hard fought up and down game the Galaxy came on the short end.

It wasn’t pretty at all, with weather conditions in the lower 40s and with high gusts throughout the match at RFK Stadium, as the game at times was very scary to say the least, but you just thought that a tie may have been coming, until a let down in the defense cost them. As they always say, “don’t stop playing until the final whistle” — and the Galaxy may have just ran out of gas by the 92nd minute.

With the Galaxy missing Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, and Jaime Penedo due to International duties, the lineup had a few changes. Starting in goal, Brian Rowe had his 3rd start of the season, Mika Vayrynen was in the midfield which pushed Jose Villarreal up top with Alan Gordon, as well as AJ DeLaGarza taking the right back position.

The match started off on the wrong foot for the Galaxy as a header by Steve Birnbaum beat the LA Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe, but to save it off the line was Mika Vayrynen, who kept the game tied at 0-0 in the first few minutes. On that same play Birnbaum had sprained his ankle and had to be taken off for former Galaxy defender Kofi Opare, who was very solid in the back with fellow former Galaxy defender Sean Franklin.

The LA Galaxy then had their first crack at goal, as a nice free kick by Mika, which was earned by Jose Villarreal, who played very good and for sure solidified his spot in the first 11 for the LA Galaxy. Mika took the free kick and it was dangerous! The knuckle-ball free kick curved and just missed the left post.

The game was constant free action throughout the match. Alan Gordon and Jose Villarreal, even though they haven’t played together up top together before, played a particularly good game, but just couldn’t get that decisive goal which may have opened the flood gates for more. Gordon was a beast on the field, working as hard as anyone up top, and Villarreal impressed me with his 5’8 frame to be able to hold up the ball against much bigger defenders and then take it to the defense.

Alan Gordon got his best chance in the first half after a great cross by Stefan Ishizaki found a wide open Alan Gordon at the penalty spot for a header that went straight into the hands of a diving Bill Hamid. You have to expect better from Gordon as this was a chance that was missed.

The first half wasn’t the best half for goalkeeper Brian Rowe. He was very shaky with many dropped balls, and poor communication with his defense. You might say that the wind was a factor, but my response to that is both goalkeepers had to deal with that wind.

The back four played in my opinion very well, but they took a beating too. LA Galaxy defender Leonardo, who has been awesome to say the least this season, suffered a left quad injury, with no update from the coaching staff.

This is a big blow for Leonardo, as he has been probably the best defender for the Galaxy this season.

The second half saw better play from the Galaxy as a whole, the defense was solid, the midfield was playing good and the forwards were still putting up a battle up top. Brian Rowe made some very good saves in the second half and came up big on a few occasions. He made a big save on a Chris Rolfe header as well as going up for many crosses into the box by DC.

The best chance in the second half came for the Galaxy as it was nearing the 70th minute when Stefan Ishizaki hit a swerving ball that hit the post. It was a shot that beat DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, but with the luck of the goal posts, it stayed 0-0.

The game was sort of coming to a stand still, which made Bruce opt to bring Edson Buddle, who in my opinion, hasn’t shown anything since coming back to the Galaxy. I was a little confused as to why Bruce brought him in instead of let say Nacho Maganto who I was hoping to see play. By taking off Mika and bringing in Buddle, that sent Villarreal to the left midfield and Buddle up top with Gordon who was a hard worker all game long.

As LA Galaxy analyst and legend, Cobi Jones said during the TWC Sportsnet telecast, “I’ll take a shot and now you’ll take a shot”, which was the tale of the whole second half, as both teams were getting exhausted towards the dying stages of the match.

A saying that my father tells me all the time, “when you don’t capitalize on your chances, the other team will eventually score” — and that’s what happened, as Nick DeLeon of DC United flew down the right wing and with a few nifty touches escaped Robbie Rogers and crossing in a ball into the 6 yard box, where Chris Pontius fought off Dan Gargan and headed it in to the back of the net and gave DC United a 1-0 lead and a 1-0 win against the LA Galaxy.

“Our team played very well today, and I thought we deserved to have a point.”
—Bruce Arena

“Our team played very well today, and I thought we deserved to have a point. We have nobody to blame but ourselves, but I thought the referee failed to make that call at the end of the game, which would of ended the game with their player charging our keeper, which was ridiculous, the way he called the game today. That is just part of it though but we’ve got accept responsibility for not coming off the field with a point.” LA Galaxy head coach told reporters post game.

The Galaxy had good chances throughout the match, but just didn’t capitalize on them. The midfield, which was anchored by Juninho, who was named captain pre-game, had its ups and downs. Husidic looked slower than usual on many occasions, but had been pushed back a little to help defensively on Nick Deleon in the second half to control the speedster with skill on the right hand side.

Bruce Arena on the chances the Galaxy had, “We played well enough to get a point out of this game. We couldn’t complain about getting a point, but losing that game was ridiculous…. Our team played well, our team played well today.”

They deserved a point, but that mental lapse in the end cost them as DC penalized the Galaxy with the late winner by Pontius. All in all the Galaxy played well, but not at the level we want to see. Yes, it’s just the end of March and we have until October, but let’s focus on the task at end instead of thinking of the future.

The Galaxy are now flying back to LA for a week of training before traveling to Vancouver, Canada to face off with the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 4th at 7 PM Pacific Time on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, as well as on the Galaxy’s radio home, The Beast 980.

Below are the highlights of the match.