DC United’s winless run against the LA Galaxy stretched to ten matches, as the hosts ran out 4-1 winners over their title rivals at the StubHub Center.
The Galaxy raced into a three-goal first-half lead with Alan Gordon, Omar Gonzalez and Baggio Husidic, and though Eddie Johnson briefly offered hope to the Black-and-Red, Landon Donovan provided a clinching penalty that was his 15th strike in his final regular season appearance against this opponent.
Both sides were dealt a blow by the absences of Robbie Keane and Chris Rolfe, with the former having fired three in his last two matches against the Washingtonians. However, this allowed Gordon a first start since his return to the club, and he immediately profited.
Bobby Boswell conceded possession within a minute of the kick-off, and after Donovan had found Marcelo Sarvas, via Gordon, the ball ricocheted back to the giant forward, who slotted past the stranded Bill Hamid.
In the game’s next chance, the California native could have added a second, following a brilliant Juninho pass, but sliced wide of the near post on his left foot. Gordon then turned provider with a neat lay-off for Gyasi Zardes, who skipped by a desperate DCU challenge, though his shot was superbly blocked by the All-Star stopper.
The relentless pressure was soon to pay off, though. Gonzalez waved a leg at Donovan’s out-swinging corner, with the volley hitting the net before the goalkeeper could react.
Next, AJ DeLaGarza almost accidentally got in on the act, when his cross dipped below the cross-bar and Hamid was forced to parry away, before the United States international saved again from Zardes’ low hammer.
DC United chance
United gradually grew into the game, but their only effort of note prior to half-time was Luis Silva’s deflected header, and Los Angeles retained a significant threat on the counter. Unsurprisingly, this was realised in the dying seconds of the first period, when Husidic got a toe to DeLaGarza’s centre to beat Hamid for a third time.
After the break though, the visitors were able to pull one back. Jaime Penedo’s sloppy punch fell to Alex Caskey, who delivered the ball back into the penalty area, where the deftest of Johnson flicks again dumbfounded the goalkeeper.
Bruce Arena’s men had been lumbering since the restart, but immediately responded with another attack. Donovan met Gordon’s knock-down with a volley, however his swing was wild and the outcome inaccurate.
At the other end, Penedo had been at fault for the goal, but only two smart stops kept Ben Olsen’s side from further denting the home advantage. Johnson and Jared Jeffrey teed up Sean Franklin and Boswell, respectively, and the Panamanian beat away both attempts.
The match was by now developing at a frantic pace, with Hamid’s legs denying Zardes, Husidic missing the target, and Penedo turning over a high looping header from his own defender.
LA then came close to a spectacular fourth moments later. Donovan sprinted forward and squared to Zardes, who moved the ball once more to Sarvas, where a lovely turn allowed him to slot in Rogers. Unfortunately, the narrow angle granted him only a smash at the goalkeeper’s body.
But there was to be a reward from the resultant corner. An apparent shove on Gonzalez saw referee Kevin Stott point to the spot, and Donovan coolly converted.
The Galaxy comfortably saw out the final 15 minutes, and remain unbeaten in Carson since the opening day of the campaign – a boost ahead of this weekend’s SuperClasico with co-inhabitants Chivas USA.