On a day where D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno was inducted into the club’s Hall of Tradition, the current D.C. United team twice fought back from a goal down to take a well-earned point in a 2-2 draw with the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
Chris Pontius scored in the 34th minute to dispose of an early LA 1-0 lead, then Kyle Porter scored in the 84th minute on a header, just three minutes after the Galaxy had retaken the lead, as United scored multiple goals in a Major League Soccer match for the first time since August 3, in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact. United are now 3-19-6 (15 points) on the season. LA now stands 13-10-5 (44 points).
At halftime, Moreno, the club’s all-time leading scorer (131 goals) and the league’s second-best scorer (133 goals), was inducted into United’s Hall of Tradition, the 8th player to receive such an honor. The others are a who’s who of United history, including John Harkes, Marco Etcheverry, Jeff Agoos, Raul Diaz Arce, Eddie Pope, Richie Williams, and current United head coach Ben Olsen.
This year’s United club has scored goals much more rarely than most of the teams did during Moreno’s playing days, but that could all be forgotten for a day as D.C. did its best to keep up with the talented Galaxy.
The effort, however, appeared lost in the 81st minute when LA’s Michael Stephens took a pass from Keane near the top of the penalty area. Unpressured by nearby United midfielder Perry Kitchen, and with a United teammate unable to catch Stephens from behind, Stephens sent a low shot past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead.
In most matches this season, that would have been enough to put United away. But in the 84th minute, the whole picture changed when Kitchen lofted a ball into the Galaxy penalty area. Porter was alone, likely the target of an offside trap on the part of the Galaxy. But LA didn’t execute it properly, Porter was onside, and his header beat Penedo to the goalkeeper’s right to tie the match again.
After Porter’s second league goal of the season, United had a bit more of the attacking role and were almost rewarded in stoppage time, when Dwayne De Rosario crossed to the back post deep at Penedo’s right, but Porter was unable to get to it and turn it around the post for the winning goal. Moments earlier, LA’s Gyasi Zardes was open at the corner of the 6-yard box, facing Hamid, but decided to pass rather than shoot, and his cut back toward the center of the penalty area was intercepted and the threat ended.
Porter and Conor Doyle were both second-half substitutes for United, and both were involved in the United attack. Porter with the goal and his late chance, while Doyle forced Penedo to make one save and took two shots overall. Likewise for LA, Stephens had only been on the field for three minutes before scoring his goal, just his second in 88 career MLS appearances, and his first since 2010.
While United have been eliminated from playoff contention, the draw could be a confidence boost as the club nears its U.S. Open Cup final date at Real Salt Lake on October 1. The draw is a bitter pill for the Galaxy, who despite a decent 13-10-5 record, are still very much in the heat of a Western Conference playoff race where 6 teams are battling for 5 spots. LA were third in the West on 44 points (just four ahead of 6th-place FC Dallas) as of the end of today’s match.
United fell behind just 7 minutes in, when Los Angeles stars Landon Donovan and Keane combined to befuddle the United defense. Donovan was allowed to possess the ball into the United penalty area without being closed down. Keane ran behind Donovan to his right, and the latter found him with a pass.
Hamid came off his line to try and cut down Keane’s shot, but Keane took a touch first that faked Hamid to the ground. Keane then lofted a shot just over Hamid that the goalkeeper got a deflection on, but not enough to keep it from going over the line. The goal was Keane’s 13th in the league this season, in just 17 appearances.
Some might have thought, given the attacking talent on display for United and the defensive frailties seen from United often this season that the rout was on. But United managed to stay on the ball, created some opportunities up the left side of the attack, and stay in the game. Part of that was due to the absence of Galaxy starting right back A.J. DeLaGarza, who left in the 10th minute with a dislocated left elbow. He was replaced by Sean Franklin.
United’s hard work was rewarded in the 39th minute, when LA and U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez made a rare mistake in his own third of the field, failing to control a ball in front of him. Pontius pressured Gonzalez and took the ball off him clean, leaving him alone with Penedo. Pontius dribbled around him to Penedo’s right, and scored into the open net to equalize.
The goal was Pontius’ second league goal of the season.
The Galaxy were forced to make another injury substitution coming out of halftime, as Donovan was replaced by Jose Villarreal to start the second half. Donovan was shown icing his left ankle on the bench.
United’s MLS season continues next Saturday when United plays at the New England Revolution (10-10-7, 37 points, entering play tonight) in a 7:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff.
NOTES: Viewers watching at home on CSN Mid-Atlantic were treated to the Galaxy feed on SportsNet. United play-by-play man Dave Johnson served as the sideline reporter for the LA broadcast. … Elsewhere in MLS on Saturday afternoon, the Columbus Crew kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Montreal. … Attendance was announced as 16,233.
UNITED 2-2 LOS ANGELES
LA – Keane 13 (Donovan 8), 7th minute.
DC – Pontius 2 (unassisted), 34th minute.
LA – Stephens 1 (Keane 10), 81st minute.
DC – Porter 2 (Kitchen 4), 84th minute.
Shots: DC 12-13 LA
Shots on Goal: DC 7-3 LA
Corners: DC 8-2 LA
Fouls: DC 11-9 LA
Offside: DC 6-2 LA
Possession: DC 59.1%-40.9% LA
UNITED (3-19-6): Hamid; Korb, White, Jakovic, Riley; DeLeon, Kitchen, Neal, Pontius (Porter 69′); Silva (Doyle 69′), De Rosario.
GALAXY (13-10-5): Penedo; DeLaGarza (Franklin 10′), Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Jimenez (Stephens 77′), Juninho, Sarvas, Zardes; Keane, Donovan (Villarreal 46′).
Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.