CARSON, Calif. — D.C. United failed to enhance its precarious position in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference against the defending MLS Cup champions last night.
Carlos Ruiz scored in the final minute of sudden-death overtime to give the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-0 victory in front of 23,140 at the Home Depot Center.
United fell three points behind the second-place New York/New Jersey MetroStars, who earned a 1-0 victory over Columbus, and saw its lead over the New England Revolution cut to two points.
United and the MetroStars will begin a pivotal two-game series Thursday in East Rutherford, N.J.. The second game will take place Sunday at RFK Stadium.
But midfielder Eliseo Quintanilla will miss Thursday night’s game. Quintanilla must serve a one-game suspension after receiving a yellow card last night.
Ruiz scored his league-leading 14th goal in the 99th minute. Diego Serna fired a cross from the right end line that Ruiz headed downward from four yards.
United goalkeeper Nick Rimando had the ball in his grasp but bobbled it, and the ball dribbled slowly inside the right post.
Until Ruiz’s goal, Rimando kept United in the game with several acrobatic saves. Rimando finished with five saves.
Los Angeles tested Rimando early. In the 11th minute, former United forward Chris Albright headed a 7-yard line drive that a leaping Rimando tipped over the crossbar with his right hand.
In the 24th minute, Tyrone Marshall launched a 26-yard line drive off the crossbar.
But Rimando made perhaps his two most acrobatic saves two minutes apart in the second half.
In the 59th minute, a jumping Rimando caught Cobi Jones aerial cross in the air as Carlos Ruiz was bearing down on him. Then in the 61st minute, Rimando dived to his right to deflect Jones’ 22-yard line drive.
Dema Kovalenko and Ronald Cerritos made crucial saves of their own in the second half.
Kovalenko headed Albright’s 7-yard shot away from the goal line in the 52nd minute, and Cerritos headed Jones’ shot out to the left flank in the 84th minute.
Rimando’s counterpart, Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, foiled United on its best scoring chance in the 29th minute.
Quintanilla’s short midfield ball freed Cerritos for a breakaway. But Hartman dived and deflected Cerritos’ 7-yard shot with his right hand; Peter Vagenas cleared the ball while on his backside in the goalkeeper’s crease.
Hartman became the third goalkeeper in MLS history to record 40 career shutouts. Kansas City’s Tony Meola leads with 46, followed by Chicago’s Zach Thornton with 42.