The RFK Stadium faithful took their opportunity Saturday night to take a jab at dismal road record of the Los Angeles Galaxy this season. But in the end, it was Landon Donovan and his teammates who had the last laugh, Donovan scoring twice in a 3-2 Galaxy victory as they ended their winless away run and put an end to D.C. United four-game winning streak.
A sign in the stands read "Don't Cry Landon, It's Just an Away Game," but the Galaxy still won outside of Southern California for the first time since June 27, 2004, when they defeated the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. Twice the Galaxy took the lead -- the second time through some Donovan free kick magic -- and twice United responded, until Donovan's second immediately answered and gave L.A. the win.
Play was a bit sloppy early on, but there was end-to-end action with both sides getting into the final third in the game's opening half hour. A Christian Gomez corner kick was nodded down toward goal by Bryan Namoff, nearly giving the defending champs the first tally in the seventh minute, but always solid L.A. 'keeper Kevin Hartman was in position to stymie the chance.
The RFK throng erupted in the 17th minute when beloved forward Jaime Moreno received a Gomez through ball at the top of the penalty area and tucked a shot to the left of Hartman into the back of the net, giving the Black-and-Red as apparent opening goal, but the linesman's flag was up for offside.
The Galaxy drew first blood 11 minutes later, capitalizing on a mistake by rookie United center back Bobby Boswell. Chris Albright, pushing forward as usual, played a ball to spring Cobi Jones free on the right flank just outside the box. Jones first-timed a line drive cross in front of the goal, prompting an errant touch from the usually composed Boswell in an apparent attempt to clear the ball, knocking it straight into his own goal.
But Boswell's defensive mate Namoff came to his rescue and got the crowd back on its feet in the 37th minute, when he snuck behind the Galaxy defense and soared to get his head ever so slightly onto a curling Gomez free kick from just outside the left corner of the box. Namoff's first career league goal evened the score.
The equalizer opened up the game, and two minutes later Donovan received a ball near midfield, turned and sprinted through the entire United defense, capping the breathtaking run with a low left-footed shot that Rimando dove to save. United created a chance of its own two minutes before the half when a short corner resulted in a Clyde Simms shot from 20 yards out that sailed over the frame.
On the quick Galaxy counterattack, Rimando extended himself to turn away a short-range try by the always opportunistic Jones. In first half injury time, United's Santino Quaranta drove a knuckler of his own from outside the box just high of the goal, and the teams went into the locker room level.
But after the break, Donovan showed why he is considered the class of MLS. In the 53rd minute, with an elegant strike that is sure to challenge for Sierra Mist Goal of the Week honors, he hit a curling shot over the wall with his magical right foot from just outside the area, grazing it off the crossbar and into the upper part of the goal past an outstretched Rimando. It was Donovan's eighth goal of the year, and he wasn't done yet.
Still, clinging to a rare second-half lead on the road by the slimmest of margins, the Galaxy couldn't hold on for long.
Moreno again knotted the score in the 66th minute, when he struck a low line drive to the left of Hartman on a penalty kick. Moreno drew the whistle himself as he put pressure on the Galaxy defense and forced second-half substitute Ugo Ihemelu to bring him down at the top of the goal area. Netminder Hartman guessed correctly on the shot, but could get little more than his fingertips on it.
Before United was even done celebrating, L.A. reclaimed the lead on another Donovan goal.
Barely a minute after the Moreno penalty, Jones sent an early cross in front of the goal. Donovan got behind his defender on the other end and confidently headed it home from point-blank range for his ninth goal of the season, giving his squad another edge with just more than 20 minutes remaining.
United just failed to convert on an excellent chance in the 89th minute, when a Dema Kovalenko volley from 10 yards out was blocked away by Hartman, and Moreno's ambitious follow bounced off the crossbar. But with that -- and Namoff's expulsion in stoppage time for a second yellow card -- the wind left the sails of the home team and the Galaxy took home a hard-fought, confidence-building victory.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Omar Garriott is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (10-9-5) vs. D.C. United (11-7-5)
August 20, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
LA -- own goal (Bobby Boswell) 28
DC -- Bryan Namoff 1 (Christian Gomez 6) 37
LA -- Landon Donovan 8 (unassisted) 53
DC -- Jaime Moreno 10 (penalty kick) 66
LA -- Landon Donovan 9 (Cobi Jones 5) 67
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Pablo Chinchilla (Ugo Ihemelu 61), Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Ned Grabavoy (Jovan Kirovski 58), Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones (Joseph Ngwenya 76), Herculez Gomez.
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Michael Umana.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Landon Donovan 3, Paulo Nagamura 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Landon Donovan 3); FOULS: 11 (Todd Dunivant 4); OFFSIDES: 6 (3 tied with 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Landon Donovan 1); SAVES: 4 (Kevin Hartman 3)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Clyde Simms (John Wilson 46), Joshua Gros (Jamil Walker 58), Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Kenny Arena, Facundo Erpen, Shawn Kuykendall, Matt Nickell, Troy Perkins, Jason Thompson, Nick Van Sicklen.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Jaime Moreno 3, Santino Quaranta 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Bryan Namoff 2); FOULS: 15 (Brandon Prideaux 5); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Christian Gomez 4); SAVES: 4 (Nick Rimando 4)
LA -- Peter Vagenas (caution; Reckless Foul) 28
DC -- Bryan Namoff (caution; Professional Foul) 52
LA -- Cobi Jones (caution; Dissent) 61
LA -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Professional Foul) 64
DC -- Bryan Namoff (caution; Dissent) 94+
DC -- Bryan Namoff (ejection; Second Caution) 94+
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Greg Barkey; Jorge De la Bandera
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-86-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.