After their worst road loss in their worst performance of the year last weekend, the Los Angeles Galaxy faced another tough challenge on another cross-country trip to another difficult Eastern Conference opponent. And, for good measure, the temperature was in the low 90s at kickoff.
But the Galaxy persevered and notched another road victory with a 2-1 win at D.C. United.
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Even though United sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the club had shown signs of life with a 2-3-2 record in their last seven games prior to hosting the Galaxy. Their overall mark of 3-10-3 was not what LA had in mind before the match.
“We knew coming into the road, into DC, that it was going to take a collective team effort,” Galaxy forward Edson Buddle said. “We stayed pretty compact, didn’t get stretched and were able to get an early goal and start ahead. We didn’t have to come from behind. That definitely helps on the road.”
Buddle and Landon Donovan, the Galaxy’s two 2010 World Cup veterans, did the damage, each scoring on either side of halftime. For Buddle, the game represented an opportunity to forget about last week’s 2-0 loss at New England.
“I don’t like the turf," he said. "I played on turf in New York and Toronto [and] I didn’t feel comfortable. New England’s a good team and they did what they had to do at home. We tried to erase that from our memories and look forward to DC.”
Buddle, though, scored his second goal since returning from South Africa and his league-leading 11th goal of the season. Despite the best efforts of United’s Dejan Jakovic, the forward persevered on the play that led to his goal.
“Sean Franklin broke free down the right side and delivered a ball that the defender couldn’t really clear properly,” he said. “I was able to touch it in stride and the defender did a great job of blocking it. I was lucky to get it right back, put a touch around the defender and put it in the back of the net.”
D.C. United equalized early in the second half, when Andy Najar buried a header off a cross from Pablo Hernandez.
But the Galaxy showed resiliency. Four minutes after Najar equalized, Franklin again did damage. Jordan Graye coughed up the ball and Franklin pounced on it. He raced towards the area and ripped a 20-yard shot on goal, but Julius James slid and knocked the ball away with his hand.
“Sean was a handful on the right side and broke free again," Buddle said. "He could have at least had two goals today. He put a lot of pressure on [DC], they made a mistake and Landon did a great job of converting the PK.”
The Galaxy kept their composure for the rest of the match and put away a pesky DC squad despite the sweltering conditions.
“We talked about the heat all week,” Buddle said. “It was something that we told ourselves that we weren’t going to let get to us. I just kept in mind that it was hot for both teams and complain about it later. I’m just happy that we didn’t lose because of the heat. We won with the heat, so we can’t really complain.”