WASHINGTON – Michael Stephens bagged his first goal in two years, but even though the midfielder was jubilant at the time of the finish, the memory was bittersweet as LA played to a 2-2 draw with D.C. United on Saturday.
Stephens entered the match in the 78th minute and needed just three minutes to find the back of the net as Robbie Keane fed him near the top the penalty area and he fired a toe-poke shot that rolled past D.C. ‘keeper Bill Hamid. The goal was Stephens’ second career MLS goal and his first since May 29, 2010.
Although the goal was his first in three years, the fact that United equalized three minutes after his strike took much of the shine off his finish.
“It was an important one at the time,” said Stephens. “It would have been a lot better if it would have been the game-winning goal, but at the time it was an important goal and obviously we gave one up, which is unfortunate. But what are you going to do? “
Although he bagged a goal, if LA had not lost A.J. DeLaGarza and Landon Donovan due to injuries then Stephens believes that he probably wouldn’t have seen the field as he has largely been used a defensive substitution.
“I think if you would have told Bruce [Arena] before the game that we were tied or we were losing, I don’t think he would have gone to me,” said Stephens. “But I think the circumstances with injured players allowed me to get in, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
Now Stephens will look to build on that goal as he is expected to be in the running for a starting position in the Galaxy midfield when they take on Isidro Metapán in CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday. With Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas and Gyasi Zardes each going a full 90 minutes in the draw with United and likely dealing with fatigue, Stephens seems poised and ready to turn his goal against D.C. into success in CCL.
“I think that it’s always good to get a goal because it doesn’t happen very often for me, so it was fun,” said Stephens. “The match against Metapán will be important for me and I think we’ll all be ready to go.”