D.C. United Plays to a 0-0 Draw with L.A. Galaxy

United's Santino Quaranta battles for the ball with the Galaxy's A.J. DeLaGarza, a rookie defender and former Maryland Terrapin, during the first half.
United's Santino Quaranta battles for the ball with the Galaxy's A.J. DeLaGarza, a rookie defender and former Maryland Terrapin, during the first half. (By Nick Wass -- Associated Press)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 23, 2009

D.C. United could take comfort Saturday night in a rejuvenated effort and the construction of quality scoring opportunities. There were none of the game-altering mistakes or careless decisions that have afflicted the club for weeks.

But in doing almost everything necessary to end its late-summer funk, United failed to convert chances, had an apparent goal disallowed under questionable circumstances and much to its disappointment, settled for a 0-0 draw with David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of 22,134 at RFK Stadium, the largest turnout for a D.C. home league game this season.

United (6-5-11) set a club record for ties, fell to 0-4-4 in its past eight games in all competitions and 1-3-4 in the past eight league outings.

The club was without Coach Tom Soehn, who watched from home with flu-like symptoms that the club fears is the H1N1 virus. Assistants Chad Ashton and Mark Simpson were in charge for United, which, after scoring eight goals in three league games, has been blanked in the past two outings to further jeopardize its playoff hopes with eight matches remaining.

Soehn fell sick before Friday's practice and underwent testing to determine the nature of the illness. The club is expecting the results Monday. As a precaution, those in the organization who work closely with Soehn were prescribed medication but no players were treated, a team spokesman said.

Soehn communicated with his assistants via cell phone during the match.

"You know you need three points in this situation, and to walk away with one is deflating," Ashton said. "We have had too many of those this year, where ties have felt like losses. We have got to start to turn those into wins."

Soehn's illness came a little more than a week after Galaxy star Landon Donovan was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus while with the U.S. national team. Donovan has continued playing, and at RFK, helped the Galaxy (8-4-11) continue to compile points on the road.

Soehn's absence came on a night when, in a rare occurrence, United was missing only the players with long-term injuries. But as well as the group clicked, it couldn't find the target. Actually, United did find it in the eighth minute when Luciano Emilio collected Fred's pass and stuck a low shot into the left corner. But assistant referee Cyril Madukanya ruled the play offside -- a decision that, based on an initial TV replay, appeared incorrect.

"That's all stuff that evens out over the year," midfielder Ben Olsen said, "but we certainly could've used it today."

In the second half, Emilio pleaded for a penalty kick after drawing contact from defender Todd Dunivant.

"He didn't have any more chance to get the ball and he pushed with both hands -- 100 percent PK, but the referee again made a mistake," Emilio said.

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