CARSON, Calif. – After 80 minutes on Saturday, Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan found himself in an awkward situation.
Trailing against D.C. United, Donovan would have been through the roof with a draw against the Eastern Conference bottom-feeders.
He outdid even those expectations with two goals in five minutes as the Galaxy pulled off their first comeback win of the season in a 2-1 win over DC.
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“There are nights throughout the year when you don’t play well – and we didn’t play well at all – but it’s important to find a way to get something out of the game,” Donovan said.
“To be honest, after the way we played, if we would have gotten a point of the game I would have been ecstatic. To win the game is pretty remarkable, but we’ll take it.”
After 60 minutes, the Galaxy fell behind and scrambled for the next 20 minutes trying to get an equalizer that at times did not appear likely. But it was Donovan who took the team on his back and pulled out the three points.
In the 81st minute, Donovan pounced on a ball DC’s Clyde Simms and Dejan Jakovic let bounce, and the Galaxy skipper dribbled into the area, evaded Troy Perkins and slipped the ball into the back of the net. Then, Donovan headed a ball over Perkins’ head and scored the eventual match-winner five minutes later.
The ball may have been fortunate to find Donovan, but he thought otherwise.
“I would argue I put myself in good spots,” Donovan said. “I want to make sure we finish top of the league and I want to win the MVP again and I wanted to make a statement.”
Whether he found the ball or the ball found him, Donovan showed to his teammates his ability to create and score quickly.
“When you’ve got someone like Landon who has that pace that can capitalize on mistakes teams make," said David Beckham. "You need that."
In his second match in as many weeks, Beckham saw an increase in playing time. He debuted a week ago in the Galaxy’s 3-1 win over Columbus with 20 minutes against the Crew and played 37 against DC.
Even though he started the match on the bench, Beckham said he could tell right away the game was going to be challenging.
“We could tell after five minutes it was going to be frustrating because I don’t think our passing was great and our final ball wasn’t right," he said, "and when you do that during games, you’re always going to struggle.
"We kept it going. The character came through at the end and we have to prove that we’ve got that character. We know it within the locker room but we have to prove it to people.”
Still, the game was tough for the Galaxy because of the way the visitors played.
“We played hard tonight, and D.C. United played incredibly hard,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Getting the first goal didn’t make it easy for us. We had to fight and scrap.
"That’s one of the few times this year we’ve been in that position and come away with the three points. That in itself is very pleasing and there’s a lot of credit to our team getting three points tonight.”
DC looked poised and confident until their late-game collapse. Donovan’s late heroics helped overcome what was a frustrating night for the hosts.
“You can live with one or two guys having an off night,” Donovan said. “It’s really frustrating when we prepare so much during the week and we have guys who are not ready, and that’s really frustrating.
For whatever reason, we had a number of guys tonight who weren’t quite there, but I think the effort was still okay and you can’t fault guys’ effort.”
Ultimately, though, the Galaxy’s result was satisfying and reflective of his team’s abilities.
“Our quality was not good all over the field and in all parts of the field,” Donovan said. “Everything could have been sharper and better.
"That being said, good teams find ways to win, and you’re not always going to play well. We’re not always going to play as well as we played last week and you’ve got to find a way to win.”
Next up for the Galaxy are the New York Red Bulls on Friday night at the Home Depot Center at 8pm PT on ESPN 2.