Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports
By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
CARSON, Calif. — If the LA Galaxy set out to send a message to the rest of Major League Soccer, it went something like this: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
The Galaxy harshly welcomed D.C. United on Wednesday night, crushing the Eastern Conference leaders, 4-1, before 16,044 at the Stub Hub Center. The Galaxy spread the love, with goals coming from Alan Gordon, Omar Gonzalez, Baggio Husidic, and Landon Donovan.
Donovan once again figured prominently in the match, earning assists on both the Gordan and Gonzalez goals, drawing him within eight of Steve Ralston’s career MLS record of 127. Donovan completed his evening — and stamped out any lingering DC United hopes — by converting a penalty kick in the 75th. He was subbed out in the 86th minute to a standing ovation.
“I’m enjoying it — I realize very clearly there’s only a very few more chances to do this,” Donovan said after the match. “The decision to retire, and playing this way, are intricately linked. That’s given me freedom to relax and enjoy it, and it’s taken all the pressure off. That’s when I play my best.”
“Landon’s obviously committed to completing his career in the right manner,” added Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “His leadership and quality tonight was terrific. What more can you say. He’s been a great one. His attitude has been terrific over the last two or three weeks since his announcement. We’re happy for him. He’s been a big part of our success in over the last few months.”
While the Husidic goal may not get goal-of-the-week attention, it was nonetheless extraordinary. The Galaxy strung together 26 consecutive passes before Husidic tapped home an AJ De La Garza cross to close out the first half.
“We’ve been scoring early in the game, which opens up the field for us,” Husidic said after the match. “Another great team goal. A lot of connected passes. Very fluid soccer tonight. I don’t know how many connected passes… twenty six? I think that’s pretty impressive.”
D.C. United showed some life early in the second half, stringing together a rapid sequence of shots, culminating in a goal created by, if not credited to, a hustling Eddie Johnson. Johnson beat beleaguered Galaxy center back Leonardo to the near post, allowing an Alex Caskey cross to hop over Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. The goal was ruled an own goal by Leonardo.
Recent addition Alan Gordon started up top in place of Robbie Keane, who enjoyed the match in street clothes from David Beckham’s luxury box. Gordon outdid Donovan’s 4th minute goal in the previous match by scoring in the 2nd minute off a deflected Donovan shot. The early lead put United on the back foot for the remainder of the half.
Omar Gonzalez figured in the offense as well, punching home a Donovan cross in the 25th minute to double the Galaxy lead.
“It’s a lot of fun playing right now. I’m trying to get forward as much as possible,” Gonzalez said. “It was a very important win for us, gets us that much closer to the top of the table.”
With the win and the three points, the Galaxy now vault into second place in the Western Conference, two behind the Seattle Sounders, and still with one game in-hand. In addition, the Galaxy now draw into a tie for second in the Supporter’s Shield race.
When asked if the Galaxy are targeting the Supporter’s Shield, Donovan responded without hesitation: “Yeah. We are. We wanna make a push for it. It’s a little dangerous, when you have games in hand all season, because you add up the points in your head, without the points being on the board. But now we’ve won these games.
“We’ve leap-frogged Dallas and Salt Lake. We play Seattle twice more, and Dallas twice more. So, there’s every chance that we can get there. And like we’ve been doing, we’ll take it one game at a time.”
The Galaxy remain at home, and will face Chivas USA on Sunday evening in the final edition ever of the Superclassico.
Despite the loss, DC United remain in first place in the Eastern Conference, while in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season. They return home and will face New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Watch the match highlights below: