In stoppage time of D.C. United’s game against the LA Galaxy, midfielder Lamar Neagle laid off a short pass inside the 18-yard box to forward Sebastien Le Toux. The veteran quickly crossed the ball behind him to put a dangerous ball in front of the net where rookie Ian Harkes rocketed a low shot toward goalkeeper Jon Kempin. Unfortunately for United, the shot was deflected by Galaxy defender Ashley Cole.
“I thought it was going in,” Harkes said. “In a way, it is positive that we are getting these chances and it showed better tonight in a tough stretch of three games.”
Harkes’ chance was one of United’s 34 shots in the scoreless draw Saturday against the Galaxy. Twelve of those shots were on target.
“We had the chances today. We had the chances,” midfielder Lloyd Sam said smiling after the game. “We are headed in the right direction.”
Sam had a chance of his own in the 70th minute when he received a pass from Harkes in shooting range, but his ball sailed over the crossbar and out of play. About 20 minutes before Sam’s opportunity, midfielder Jared Jeffrey tested the Galaxy’s defense as well.
In the 50th minute, defender Taylor Kemp took a free kick about five yards outside the box. Kempin blocked the shot but was unable to secure the ball. That’s when Jeffrey swooped in to clean up the rebound, but could not evade Kempin’s outstretched hands.
“It is very frustrating,” Jeffrey said. “Sometimes it feels like there is a force field in front of the goal. I thought we have been doing a lot better at creating chances.”
United has now gone four games without scoring at RFK Stadium. A 2-1 win over NYCFC on April 8 was the last time United scored at home.
“We are having a little trouble getting that first [goal], but it will come,” Olsen said.
Despite the scoring drought at home, Olsen is satisfied with his team’s performance during a trying three-game schedule this week. United went 1-1-1 against Vancouver, Orlando and LA.
“I have been encouraged for the entire week,” Olsen said. “If we continue to play that way … the wins will start to come. The goals will start to come. Sometimes it just takes one game or one goal to start to unleash that stuff.”
United now has a brief break before returning to league play. The team hosts Christos F.C. Tuesday, June 13 in the US Open Cup and then returns to MLS play in Toronto on Saturday, June 17.
“It is not all doom and gloom,” Olsen said. “It is important, over the next two weeks, to compete and get better and find out who our best group is right now.”
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