Dave Johnson: Donovan Penalty Dooms United

Dave Johnson: Donovan Penalty Dooms United
July 19, 2010, 2:42 am
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Sunday, July 18, 2010 11:11 pm
By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWashington----For DC United, the play was positive but, again, the pain was all too real. In a competitive match with the Los Angeles Galaxy, United pushed hard for three points and the victory, but paid the price for two mistakes in a 2-1 loss before 17,688 at RFK Stadium.United was determined to shake off Thursdays gut wrenching 1-0 loss to Seattle in the 89th minute, but were put in the unenviable position of chasing the game after Edson Buddle opened the scoring in the 38th minute.World Cup hero Landon Donovan, who rested last week in a loss to New England, returned to the Galaxy lineup and scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the 58th minute. Donovans clinical finish made up for Andy Najar's wonderful equalizer in the 54th minute.
While United has taken comfort in an improved play in recent weeks, the feel-good factor is being muted by errors. Midfielder Stephen King worked hard to cut off a Sean Franklin cross from the flank, only to have his clearance go right to Buddles feet.Buddle then slalomed from the top of the penalty arc and into the area where his initial shot was by blocked by sliding defender Dejan Jakovic. Buddle calmly collected the blocked shot, pulled the ball back, pivoted to his left and fired home a left-footed shot from ten yards out.Just before halftime, United almost provided the answer. From the right flank Devon McTavish served a ball into the top of the area where new signing Pablo Hernandez chest-trapped it down to the ground. With his back to the goal, and without looking, Hernandez back heeled it forward to King, who had his shot blocked six yards from the goal.Hernandez, who was just signed by United from Uruguays Club Defensor Sporting, had his quality rewarded by Najar in the second half. Twenty yards from goal, Hernandez delivered a perfect free-kick that was met by an equally perfect header to tie the game.With score tied at one, RFK Stadium was buzzing, and there was sense that this might be Uniteds breakthrough game. Instead, United was left brokenhearted and, unfortunately, United rookie defender Jordan Graye was involved in the decisive play.A turnover by Graye in the closing moments of Thursdays game led to Seattles winning goal. Against the Galaxy, Gray gave the ball away to Sean Franklin about 30 yards from Uniteds goal. Franklin then stormed to the area and fired a shot from 20 yards out that was blocked in part by the hands of Julius James in the area to set up Donovans penalty kick.Hes our third left back, United head coach Curt Onalfo said of Graye. Marc Burch has a broken foot. Rodney Wallace has a broken leg. Hes a fourth-round draft pick who has had some very good games for us, and hes made some errors that have cost us. Unfortunately thats what young players go through.For United, the fight was there until the bitter end. In the 88th minute a Santino Quaranta free kick from the left flank was cleared, but Clyde Simms did well to send it back into the area. Julius James trapped the ball down, but it ricocheted high off the turf and Hernandez ended up heading it just over the crossbar.Hernandez started up top with Quaranta, and with his play made it clear why United signed him. In the second half, United put in Branko Boskovic, signed from Rapid Vienna, and he too rewarded Uniteds front office for its belief in him.While help is on the way, the concern is the hole United is in at only 12 points. Additionally United, as they have done all year, is dealing with another injury. Midfielder Chris Pontius is believed to have a broken foot.Pontius was hurt early in the first half, but bravely played until halftime. Indeed United is full of conviction and commitment, but sadly has little to show for it.We keep making the same mistakes over and over again, Quaranta noted. Its almost the definition of insanity. There are consequences for being the worst team in the league because this is not what we strive to do here.