Tampa Bay Sports Day

Improved DC United goes unrewarded 0-0

DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy played to a scoreless draw at rain soaked RFK Stadium Saturday night extending United’s league winless streak to four games and five overall. Despite one of their more complete performances in recent weeks, the draw leaves United on the outside of the playoff picture at least for one more week.

The Galaxy on the other hand improved to 6-1-2 in their last nine matches and have a stronghold a good playoff seed. Their 5-1-7 record away from home ties them with Chicago for most road points in the league. Los Angeles now plays five out of their last seven matches at home and more importantly, have no more mid-week games and only one more game in the Eastern Time zone.

United had a clear advantage in possession but were imprecise in the final third to break down an extremely organized Galaxy side that included David Beckham, who sat out Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Chicago serving a one game suspension after receiving a red card in their 2-0 home loss to Seattle a week ago. Eddie Lewis also returned to the starting XI after being ejected in that same match.

“They’re a team that’s very, very organized, stays compact and basically tries to counterattack against you,” said United Assistant Coach Chad Ashton, who ran the team as Head Coach Tom Soehn’s recovers from severe flu like symptoms. ““To break them down you have to be disciplined in terms of your possession and move the ball from side to side, change the point of attack and wait for there to be an opening.”

United fielded a first choice side with Jaime Moreno coming off the bench in favor of Christian Gomez in the 51st minute and Chris Pontius for Ben Olsen in the 69th minute. Olsen and Clyde Simms played behind Gomez in the midfield with Fred and Rodney Wallace wide. Emilio ran up top with Santino Quaranta who dropped back into midfield when Moreno was brought on.

An unfortunate off-side call kept United from taking the lead in the 7th minute when Luciano Emilio slipped behind the Los Angeles back line and potted a shot behind Donovan Ricketts before the whistle blew. Emilio appeared to be even with the final defender as the ball was played through but the linesman’s flag went up and referee Mark Geiger blew the whistle to nullify the goal.

Geiger chose not to call two potential penalties in the second half that could have tipped the full points to United. What seemed to be an obvious hand ball by Stefani Miglioranzi in the penalty area went uncalled as was a subtle but definitive push by Todd Dunivant on Emilio in the 66th minute.

Regardless of these controversial decisions, both teams had ample chances to put a marker on the scoreboard. United played the ball wide quite frequently in the first half but did less of that in the second.

“I even thought especially in the second half, we didn’t do a great job of holding those wings out wide and playing that last ball to our wide guy,” said Ashton. “Whether it be in the air for a header at the back stick or a winger starting to creep in a little too early and having to back up for the header. I thought we could’ve stretched them a little more, width-wise, once we got into the final third.”

“I feel like it was one of the only games this year where we have had the right mentality throughout the game,” added Olsen. “Our lapses were very few and that’s an important step for us too. Now, we’re a professional enough team to realize that’s not going to do it. We need to do that and sneak a goal. We’d like to get three points, but it’s certainly something to build on.”

As thunderstorms surrounded the greater Washington, DC area the entire day, the skies gave way to just a steady rain throughout the entire first half and play was clearly affected. Both teams played several probing balls into potentially dangerous areas of the field in hopes that a skidding ball or bad bounce would force a mistake.

“Whew, this is always a tough to place to play here in Washington because the humidity is unbelievable and it seems when it rains the humidity goes up a bit. It was tough today,” added a smiling Beckham.

Throughout the match, the Galaxy played smart and disciplined, keeping good shape with the aim of countering when the space was clearly available.

“Teams from the west coast aren’t (used to the heat and humidity), I am familiar with it, but I think our guys were pretty surprised how it hit them in the first half,” said Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena, who led United for their first three seasons and their first two championships.

“To be able to hang in there and do a good job and to keep it good and tight defensively and pick our spots to go forward was important. I think at the end of the game we positioned ourselves where we wanted to be and gave ourselves a chance to possibly steal three points as well.”

Beckham played in a primarily central midfield role but often drifted wide to collect the ball in good spots to generate attacking opportunities. He exchanged well with Donovan and Lewis repeatedly creating multiple opportunities that just lacked a polished finish.

“I saw there were a few spaces on the right and then the manager pushed me up toward the left with five minutes to go so it’s just about getting on the ball and supplying the forwards and we did that at times but we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Beckham.

“He was roving in the midfield. He is a central midfielder but he has the freedom to move and find the right spots on the field to help our team keep the ball or create goal scoring opportunities,” said Arena about Beckham’s play. “He can create goal scoring opportunities and he is a very good two-way player as well. We know when he gets fully into form he is going to be pretty good in September and October.”

Scoring Summary:

Los Angeles Galaxy — Donovan Ricketts, A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Stefani Miglioranzi, Eddie Lewis (Bryan Jordan 85), Jovan Kirovski (Chris Klein 65), Mike Magee (Alan Gordon 60),

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Birchall, Leonard Griffin, Tony Sanneh, Josh Saunders

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Fred (Andrew Jacobson 83), Christian Gomez (Jaime Moreno 51), Ben Olsen (Chris Pontius 69), Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Luciano Emilio, Santino Quaranta,

Substitutes Not Used: Julius James, Avery John, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavish

D.C. United Los Angeles Galaxy
Total shots: 13 (Luciano Emilio 3,
Santino Quaranta 3) 10 (4 tied with 2)
Shots on goal: 3 (3 tied with 1) 5 (Todd Dunivant 2)
Fouls: 10 (Ben Olsen 3) 15 (3 tied with 3)
Offsides: 8 (Luciano Emilio 6) 0
Corner kicks: 6 (Christian Gomez 4) 3 (Eddie Lewis 2)
Saves: 5 (Josh Wicks 5) 3 (Donovan Ricketts 3)

Misconduct Summary:

DC — Ben Olsen (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
LA — Landon Donovan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 31
LA — Mike Magee (caution; Reckless Tackle) 54
DC — Rodney Wallace (caution; Reckless Foul) 68

Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee’s Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Cyril Madukanya
4th official: Mark Kadlecik
Time of game: 1:51
Attendance: 22,134
Weather: Showers -and- 75 degrees