I'm not going to get too hung up on tying winnable games on the road against the defending Supporters Shield winners and favorites to win it again. Last year we were losing winnable games at home. Now we're tying winnable games on the road. That's progress, and this young team is just going to keep progressing.
D.C. United didn't score against the Los Angeles Galaxy, but they didn't give up any goals either. The Galaxy may have been missing Landon Donovan and Donovan Ricketts, but their excellent backline (second in MLS with just 0.75 goals against average) was fully intact. They also had the most talented non-injured midfielder in the league in David Beckham, and yet United won the battle in the midfield.
Our forwards let us down a bit in the box, but United was otherwise the better team. That's a pretty good accomplishment against a team that is eight points clear of second place. Not many teams will hold the Galaxy to only two points in their two meetings this year.
Full recap here. Player ratings below.
The central defensive pairing of Perry Kitchen and Ethan White couldn't have a higher ceiling. Its crazy to think that, on their current career arcs, these two might be competing for World Cup roster spots in 7 and 11 years. White was the most impressive of the three former Terrapin defenders on the field in this game while being matched up on the resurgent Chad Barrett for most of the game.
Bruce Arena seemed as surprised as the rest of us to see United using basically a flat-four midfield with Fred da Silva and Clyde Simms in the middle. Similar to the McCarty-King pairing last month, one didn't play in front of the other. They each had the responsibility to defend, and they each had the flexibility to go forward. Fred's hard work in D.C.'s own half was just as surprising as Simms' sudden entrances into the LA box.
That Fred may have found a higher rating had he passed to Blake Brettschneider in the 52nd minute rather than taking a run at goal on his own. The big target forward rookie had another productive game up top, battling with Omar Gonzalez and winning more often than most would expect.
The two most dangerous players for United though were Andy Najar and Josh Wolff. They each seemed intent on leaving the match with at least one assist. The problem was that there was no one to leave the match with a goal.
Wolff may have missed some scoring opportunities, but at least he also created some too. United's two leading scorers Charlie Davies and Chris Pontius also missed quality scoring chances, but without adding much else. Pontius had four of the team's eight shots, but never really challenged Josh Saunders. Meanwhile, Davies failed to finish off the best chance of the match for either side.
After giving up four goals three separate times in the month of April, United has now given up just four goals in the last five matches combined. Two of those came on penalty kicks. During that stretch, United has shut out the two top teams in the league.
As we've already pointed out, the D.C. United schedule has been tough so far. Next Saturday's visit from the San Jose Earthquakes might be against the weakest opponent that United has faced in months. We've got a few more difficult games coming up, but United is right where we'd like to see them in third place in the Eastern Conference. And after July 16, the schedule gets a whole lot easier.