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A resilient performance

The Black-and-Red display a fighting spirit ahead of the Open Cup final

Chris Pontius - 2013 - filter

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USA Today Sports Images

If there ever was a time for D.C. United to deliver what was arguably its most resilient performance of the season, it was Saturday – two matches ahead of the U.S. Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1.

United scored multiple goals in a league match for only the third time this season and did so by coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against an L.A. Galaxy club that’s in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

RECAP: D.C. United 2 - LA Galaxy 2

It had been quite some time since United’s players felt that spirit to fight back in the 2-2 draw at RFK Stadium.

“Last year, no matter what we were down, I always felt like we were in the game and we could come back. It was nice,” said United midfielder Chris Pontius. “I saw that [Saturday]. I didn’t see people put their heads down. I saw people keep fighting. A lot of times, there are mistakes we can clean up.”

And while D.C. coach Ben Olsen noted that his club still isn’t winning (3-19-6), this draw felt a lot more like a win than did their 1-1 result against Toronto FC in late August.

“I think the difference between [Saturday] and a lot of our games this year is that everybody showed up and played well,” Olsen said. “Everybody did their job, including the subs, and we had a couple guys who I thought played great. That’s the recipe to try to get results, especially against really good teams like that. I love the courage to come back from both goals and tie it up and have a look or two at the end to get a win.”

POST-MATCH QUOTES: "There are times of real spirit with this crew."

Aside from the ability to claw their way back, thanks to Kyle Porter’s late header at the end of a pretty ball from Perry Kitchen, United also were encouraged by the fact that a first-choice Starting XI was available to Olsen for virtually the first time all season. United’s coach hopes to be able to establish consistency in his lineup leading up to the showdown against RSL.

“There are times of real spirit with this crew, and I still believe in the nucleus of this team, and [Saturday] was a great dress rehearsal for Salt Lake because Real Salt Lake has this type of quality,” Olsen said. “Overall, I’m pleased.”

BY THE NUMBERS: D.C. United vs LA Galaxy

Pontius also is rounding nicely into form. He played 69 minutes and scored his second goal of the season before giving way to Porter, who scored in the 84th.

“It’s tough to come back from two goals against a great team like the Galaxy,” Porter said. “It just shows we can play with the best. … Everyone’s getting healthy, everyone’s gelling. We’re just pushing for that Cup.”