CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan helped the Galaxy avert disaster with a pair of late goals as Los Angeles rallied to beat D.C. United 2-1 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
Donovan’s goals, his sixth and seventh of the season, offset a 60th-minute goal from Andy Najar and also helped the Galaxy overcome a deficit to win for the first time this season.
D.C. United weren’t supposed to make things too difficult for the league-leading Galaxy, but the visitors had just as many scoring opportunities in the first half as the hosts. Just five minutes in, for instance, Danny Allsopp pushed a 20-yard shot just wide of the goal.
Galaxy players had stressed the importance of playing with energy early on, particularly with how they used an early goal against Columbus to fuel their 3-1 rout of the Crew a week ago. But LA lacked the early-game bite they had against Columbus as DC made things difficult for them.
Los Angeles tested Troy Perkins a handful of times but the ‘keeper responded with three first-half saves. Galaxy ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts, meanwhile, nearly gave away a goal.
DC’s Pablo Hernández fired a left-footed 22-yard shot on the Jamaican international, who dived to make the save.
Ricketts stopped the ball initially but it bounced underneath him and hit the post before he scrambled to stop the ball on the goal line.
Early in the second half, the Galaxy tried to add some energy into the match. David Beckham replaced Jovan Kirovski in the 53rd minute, ensuring he would be near the high end in the number of minutes coach Bruce Arena said he’d planned on playing him.
With Beckham on the field, LA looked more energetic as he tried to send long balls over DC’s defense.
Even with the infusion of energy, the Galaxy still surrendered a goal. Najar, who had been DC’s most dangerous player in the first half, knifed through the Galaxy’s defense and slipped a ball to Santino Quaranta from the top of the penalty area.
Quaranta fed Hernández, who caromed a shot off Ricketts’ chest. The ball bounced back towards Najar, who tucked the ball in the right corner of the net.
The Galaxy battled back, though, and pulled off their first comeback victory of the season. In the 81st minute, Donovan pounced on a loose ball that neither Clyde Simms nor Dejan Jakovic were able to get to.
The DC duo let the ball bounce in between them and Donovan pounced on it, got past Perkins and slipped the ball into an empty net.
Five minutes later, Tristan Bowen crossed the ball in from the right flank. The ball bounced before Donovan headed the ball over Perkins’ head and just inside the right post.
The win gives the Galaxy 50 points and extends their lead over Real Salt Lake back to three points. DC, meanwhile, dropped to 5-17-3.
DC -- Andy Najar 4 (unassisted) 60
LA -- Landon Donovan 6 (unassisted) 81
LA -- Landon Donovan 7 (Tristan Bowen 2, Sean Franklin 6) 86
LA -- Omar Gonzalez (caution; Tactical Foul) 39
LA -- Yohance Marshall (caution; Reckless Foul) 62
LA -- Landon Donovan (caution; Delaying a Restart) 87
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Jordan Graye, Julius James, Dejan Jakovic, Jed Zayner, Andy Najar, Kurt Morsink (Carlos Varela 89), Stephen King (Branko Boskovic 46), Santino Quaranta, Danny Allsopp (Clyde Simms 78), Pablo Hernandez.
Substitutes Not Used: Junior Carreiro, Devon McTavish, Chase Harrison.
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Yohance Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, Juninho (Tristan Bowen 78), Dema Kovalenko, Alex Cazumba (Eddie Lewis 63), Edson Buddle, Jovan Kirovski (David Beckham 53).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Birchall, Mike Magee, Michael Stephens, Josh Saunders.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear and 63 degrees