D.C. United continued their putrid home form on Saturday night, drawing 0-0 with the LA Galaxy. It was the sixth time in eight home games that the Black-and-Red failed to find the back of the net in 2017. Finishing off a stretch of three games in eight days, United create a fair share of opportunities to beat LA keeper Jon Kempin, who was making his team debut with LA’s top two choice out for injury and international duty.
But United could never find the breakthrough, the fourth consecutive home game in which they have failed to score a goal. The last time United scored at RFK Stadium was April 8th, when Luciano Acosta tallied in the 73rd minute of a 2-1 win over New York City FC.
Ben Olsen made five changes to his starting lineup, with the Black-and-Red finishing off a grueling week of fixtures. Captain Steve Birnbaum missed out completely due to injury, while Lamar Neagle, Marcelo Sarvas, Julian Buescher and Chris Odoi-Atsem were on the bench. In came Patrick Nyarko for his first start since returning from injury, Chris Korb, Ian Harkes, Jose Ortiz, and Jalen Robinson, making his first appearance of the year.
The Galaxy, who had won three in a row (all on the road) heading into the game, got the party started with a chance in the 6th minute. A quick attack from Giovani Dos Santos led to Emmanuel Boateng getting the ball on the right, and firing a shot that was blocked by Opare. Romain Alessandrini latched onto the rebound and tested Bill Hamid with a shot, but Hamid was able to cover after initially spilling the ball.
Ortiz, who was suspended for the loss against Orlando City, had the first look for United in the 13th minute. Harkes weighted a through ball towards goal, and Ortiz cut in front of Jelle Van Damme to get to the pass. Running into the box, Ortiz first timed a shot on goal, but Jon Kempin was able to comfortably make the save.
United’s Costa Rican striker was once again the beneficiary of an excellent ball into the box in the 20th minute, this time from Kemp. Harkes switched the field over to the left back, allowing Kemp to whip an inviting cross into the middle. Ortiz once again got in front of Van Damme, but his deft leaping touch took the ball over the frame.
Alessandrini teased a cross into the box in the 29th minute for Gyasi Zardes, but Robinson made a last ditch tackle to knock the ball away on the doorstep. Ten minutes later, dos Santos picked up a pass from Alessandrini and set his sights on goal, but saw his effort blocked by Opare.
Sam went close for United in the 43rd minute. Latching onto a long ball in the box, Sam cut back to open a shooting lane. After faking Van Damme to the ground, his effort was on target and seemed to be pushed wide by Kempin, though a goal kick was eventually given as the ball dribbled out of bounds.
The second half had a bit more excitement to it than the first, even though goals apparently weren’t coming. Zardes tested Hamid moments into the second half, but United’s keeper, fresh off a midweek blunder, made a smart save.
Kemp then had a look from a free kick, in which Luciano Acosta laid the ball off for the left back. Kemp’s shot had plenty of power, forcing Kempin into a save. The ball spilled away from the keeper, but he was able to recover in time to get a touch on Jared Jeffrey’s rebound attempt just yards out from the goal.
Acosta had a shooting opportunity after a pass from Harkes in the 52nd minute, but Kempin was equal to the effort as Acosta cut back in the box. The Argentine playmaker then took the honors with a free kick in the 59th minute, but his curling effort towards the near post didn’t have the speed to beat Kempin, who ultimately saved comfortably.
Though United seemed to be in control, the Galaxy forced two saves from Hamid, thanks to set pieces from Alessandrini, and headers from center back Dave Romney. The first, from a free kick in the 64th minute, ended with Hamid doing just enough to tip Romney’s header over the bar. It was almost the same two minutes later, when Romney won a header on a corner, but couldn’t guide his shot past Hamid.
Lloyd Sam tried his luck from an angle in the 70th minute, but the winger blazed a shot just barely over from inside the box. Then, after picking off a poor pass in LA’s own half, Acosta made his way towards goal and finally beat Kempin, only for the shot to slam off of the woodwork.
Ortiz skipped around a challenge in the 74th minute to create an opportunity for himself, but his shot was well covered by Kempin. At the other end, substitute Jack McInerney tried to beat Hamid from distance in the 81st minute, but it was an easy stop in the end.
There were two late, late chances for United, starting when substitute Sebastien Le Toux found Harkes all alone at the top of the box deep into stoppage time. Harkes hit his shot first time, but the shot - seemingly destined to beat Kempin - was blocked out for a corner. United caught LA by surprise with a quickly taken short corner, but Opare headed the eventual service wide, again seemingly with a great chance to snatch a win.
United, with 15 points from 14 games, have 10 days after before their next game, in which they host Christos FC in the US Open Cup at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The Black-and-Red’s next MLS game is on June 17, when they travel up north to play against Toronto FC.