Draw leaves DC feeling 'deflated'
WASHINGTON -- By their own admission, D.C. United needed a win against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night, given their inconsistent play and poor league form over the past two months.Some borderline refereeing decisions and a lack of sharpness around goal put paid to that objective, as the Galaxy left the nation's capital with a 0-0 draw that surely means more to them than to the Black-and-Red."You know you need three points in this situation, and to walk away with one is deflating," said D.C. assistant coach Chad Ashton, who led the team due to the illness-enforced absence of Tom Soehn. "We've had too many of those this year where ties have felt like losses. We've got to start to turn those into wins."But an optimist might point out that you first have to put down the shovel before you can climb out of the sort of hole that D.C. have dug for themselves lately, and in that light Saturday's result offered reasons for optimism in the United camp."Guys over the last four or five games have given up a lot of goals, whether it's from mistakes or just slacking off, or great finishes," said goalkeeper Josh Wicks. "And to see the defense -- and the whole team, actually -- play strong defensively, get behind the ball. ... Guys were getting stuck in all over the field. Defensively, it was a great game all over the field."Facing a Galaxy side boasting several potent weapons -- most notably Landon Donovan, who ranks third in the MLS Golden Boot race with 10 goals to go with five assists -- United posted a shutout for only the third time in their 2009 league campaign.Perhaps most importantly, D.C. avoided the individual errors that have been their downfall in recent weeks and the importance of that "90-minute performance" was a recurring theme afterwards in the United locker room."We had 11 guys put in a positive performance tonight, and any time you can do that, we're going to win games if we play like that," said Santino Quaranta, expressing optimism despite his team's dearth of victories in the midst of a tight Eastern Conference playoff race."It's the older guys still trying to keep the younger guys knowing that it's such a long season: We get on a roll here, three, four or five games, it's 15 points in the bag. So we'll be fine and the guys understand that if we keep playing like that, we'll be all right."The story might have been very different had striker Luciano Emilio enjoyed a bit more good fortune on two pivotal sequences involving referee Mark Geiger. The first saw Emilio ghost into the L.A. penalty box in the seventh minute to meet Fred's chipped through ball with a sharp finish past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, only to see the effort waved off by the assistant referee's flag for offside."I don't think it was offside. I tried to stay in the same line with the defenders and then I went after the pass," said the Brazilian afterwards. "I don't think it was offside. I would like to see it on TV."The second was a tussle in the box with Todd Dunivant that left Emilio on the turf after he seemed to have slipped in behind the Galaxy defender with a clear path to goal."I controlled the ball very good and the defender didn't have an opportunity to get to the ball, and he pushed me with both hands. I think it was a PK," said Emilio, clearly aggrieved to have come away empty-handed.Even so, for a club which has made a point of stockpiling attacking riches, the frontline's recent inability to find the net is unsettling. United have now gone five matches without scoring a goal in the run of play."We definitely have to get better in the final third. We've got to put our chances away," said captain Jaime Moreno, who entered the match in the 51st minute and quickly helped D.C. carve out a number of opportunities. "We've definitely lost our mojo. But I'm pretty confident that we're going to get that back."