September 25, 2020

D.C. United Game 25 Recap: United suffer a night to forget at L.A. Galaxy


Thankfully for D.C. United fans, the club’s 2014 Major League Soccer season hasn’t seen many games like this. A depleted midfield, slow start, and a phantom penalty all were enough to allow the L.A. Galaxy to drub United, 4-1, Wednesday night at StubHub Center before an announced crowd of 16,044. Despite slipping to 13-8-4, United remains atop the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Sporting Kansas City. The win improved the Galaxy to 12-5-7 (43 points), good for second place in the West, just two points behind the leading Seattle Sounders.

Landon Donovan scored from the spot and had two assists to lead the way in the victory, one which saw United head coach Ben Olsen leave Chris Rolfe, Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, and Fabian Espindola on the bench to start. Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson tried to combine in the attack, but had little opportunity given the Galaxy were on the ball throughout much of a first half that ended with L.A. holding a 3-0 lead.

Espindola and DeLeon came on during the final half-hour after L.A.’s Leonardo was credited with an own goal that briefly got United back within 3-1. But as D.C. was building significant pressure toward a second goal that would have set up a fun finish, referee Kevin Stott whistled United rookie center back Steve Birnbaum for standing too close to L.A.’s Omar Gonzalez. The official MLS highlight video states Birnbaum “pushed” Gonzalez. The actual video shows Gonzalez leaning his way into Birnbaum, jumping up to send a header wide, then falling over.

Stott enthusiastically pointed to the spot and Donovan made no mistake, as his 141st career MLS goal put the game away for good. Not that United were deserving of a point on this night. Alan Gordon put the hosts up in just the second minute, with Gonzalez (25th minute) and Baggio Husidic adding to the lead in first-half stoppage time. Johnson caused the commotion that led to United’s goal in the 58th minute, as he, Leonardo, and L.A. goalkeeper Jaime Penedo all converged and the ball went of Leonardo and into the net. Donovan’s spot kick ended any thoughts of a comeback, however.

United have no time to fret over the defeat. The New York Red Bulls come to RFK Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff Sunday. United beat New York, 1-0, at RFK on April 12.

THE GOOD: Johnson was at least involved in the goal, he also made a decent pass in the buildup that got the ball wide to set up the original chance. The move that directly led to the goal was a smart run on his part.

THE BAD: Everything else.

THE UGLY: The most advanced mind-reading machine wouldn’t be able to tell you what Stott was thinking on the penalty call. It takes talent to get pushed, leap in the air, head the ball toward goal, then fall in the direction of the person who pushed you.

NOTES: The Galaxy, who started the MLS season 2-3-3, are 10-2-4 in their last 16 matches, taking 34 points. … United remain 13 points clear of the New England Revolution for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, with nine regular-season matches to play. … United has just one match remaining against a Western Conference opponent, that coming Saturday, Sept. 6 at Vancouver. … David Estrada and Alex Caskey both started in the D.C. midfield. It was Caskey’s second career MLS start, the other came in 2012 with Seattle. That was also the year and club for whom Estrada had made his only previous MLS starts (five).

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. He covered United for The Journal Newspapers from 1997-2002 and has been attending games since 1996. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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