Josh Saunders did well stepping into the nets for Donovan Ricketts, and the Galaxy extended its shutout streak to four games -- and 411 minutes -- and that covers all the positives, from L.A.'s standpoint, in Friday night's scoreless draw with D.C. United.
L.A. lacked clarity, focus and energy, never looked capable of scoring and was fortunate to keep their longtime rival out of the nets, especially at the end, when Charlie Davies, returning from injury, should have done better with an open net.
“We were poor tonight. No question about that …,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “There was no quality to our game tonight. Passing was poor. Effort was just OK. Just didn't get it done. There were no excuses there. That was a poor performance.”
The Galaxy clearly missed Landon Donovan, who like Ricketts is away for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and if Arena didn't think so -- “Has nothing to do with it,” he said -- others don't agree.
“He's an X factor, for sure, and we missed that spark tonight,” left back Todd Dunivant said. “We were pretty flat, and we didn't have any real explosive plays out there, and that's what he's known for, so we definitely missed that.”
Said D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, whose team missed Donovan in both meetings this year -- he was injured when the teams drew April 9 in Washington: “They're the best team in the league --with Landon, let's face it. Landon's having an unbelievable year, and he changes the way you can play this team.”
Arena pegged L.A.'s lack of spunk to a three-day break earlier in the week, noting that his team “never got it going during the week.” David Beckham predicted that “maybe Bruce won't be giving us three days off again.”
The Galaxy were without forward Juan Pablo Angel, a game-time scratch after tweaking his right calf during training Wednesday, and Juninho departed at halftime after struggling with an ankle injury he sustained in last week's win over New England.
The draw ended L.A.'s four-game winning streak but kept it unbeaten over seven games with arguably MLS's worst team, Toronto FC, heading to HDC next weekend.
The Galaxy had two decent chances early, with a Mike Magee long ball setting up Chris Birchall's cross to the near post that Chad Barrett couldn't handle in the eighth minute, and D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid diving to parry Birchall's knuckling, bouncing shot, possibly deflected, in the 13th.
That was more or less it for L.A., although Barrett and Magee should have done far more from Beckham crosses early in the second half. Barrett, especially: He got behind D.C.'s backline for a quick Beckham free kick but headed the ball well off target. Angel or Donovan, you'd believe, would have finished the chance.
A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:
BEST PLAYER: Saunders was the only L.A. player found worthy, making a big save on Andy Najar in the closing minutes. D.C. had several fine players, including the three rookies on its backline -- Akron products Perry Kitchen, 19, and Chris Korb, 23, and Ethan White, 20, from Maryland -- who were critical in D.C. denying L.A. space to operate.
Best of all was veteran forward Josh Wolff, who was crafty, setting up late chances by Najar and Davies, and just fired wide when a Kitchen throw-in bounced in the box and over Magee and Jovan Kirovski to him in the 64th.
BEST GOAL: Neither team looked as if they were going to score -- the Galaxy much more so than D.C. -- and the best opportunities either were off target (Wolff in the 64th, Davies in the 81st) or parried by the keepers (Birchall in the 13th, Najar in the 86th).
Davies should have done more with his chance near the end. He took a feed in midfield from Wolff, sprinted to L.A.'s box, wound up to shoot and then had to push the ball a little further when Omar Gonzalez came sliding in. He couldn't adjust to his momentum and hit the ball off-balance and off target.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: Everything.
WORTH NOTING: Former D.C. United forward Adam Cristman made his Galaxy debut, coming on in the 83rd minute. He had played in one Reserve League game, a month ago against Chivas USA, after suffering a preseason knee injury. … The Galaxy will debut a third uniform in its July 4 game against Seattle, and they're already taking pre-orders for replicas -- sight unseen. They won't show the new jersey off until a July 1 event in downtown Los Angeles. … D.C. unveiled their third, all-red kit for the match. ... Dutch star Wesley Sneijder and his wife, model/actress Yolanthe Sneijder Cabau van Kasbergen, were in attendance.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “We didn't pass the ball well, we didn't keep the ball, we couldn't create space,” Beckham said. I think it just went through the whole game. … Tonight was just one of those games where I don't think either team was going to score, especially us. At the end of the day, a bad night for us …
“We have to forget this performance now, because it was a disappointing, flat performance. No matter who was not playing, who was playing, we're better than that.”
NEXT: Saturday, June 11, vs. Toronto FC at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket)
Home Depot Center (Carson)
Galaxy 0, D.C. United 0
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Chris Birchall, David Beckham, Juninho (Jovan Kirovski, 46), Mike Magee; Miguel Lopez (Paolo Cardozo, 68), Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman, 83). Unused subs: Gregg Berhalter, Frankie Hejduk, Brian Perk. Michael Stephens.
D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Fred (Stephen King, 61), Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius; Josh Wolff (Joseph Ngwenya, 88), Blake Brettschneider (Charlie Davies, 67).
Yellow cards: Fred 6, Gonzalez 42, White 65.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu. Att.: 20,036.