- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charlie Davies’ celebration of his latest goal for D.C. United was foiled by a locked car door.

It didn’t change the reality his salvaged a point for United in the final minutes Saturday.

Davies’ penalty kick in the 90th minute allowed United —- playing a man down in the closing stages against Los Angeles —- to escape RFK Stadium with a 1-1 tie before 26,622.

“He came in and gave us a big play, and that’s what he’s been doing off the bench,” United coach Ben Olsen said.

Davies, who has entered as a reserve in all three of his appearances for D.C. (1-2-1), took a pass from Branko Boskovic along the left side and charged into the box. He then drew slight contact with the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez to secure the penalty kick.

Rather than engage in a guessing game with Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts, Davies simply nudged a shot into the center of the goal as Ricketts dove hard to his right for his fourth goal of the season.

“I knew I was going down the middle the whole time,” Davies said. “Ricketts is a big guy. I know he’s pretty quick and he’s going to get to a corner. If you put that ball in the corner and he guesses, more than likely he’s going to get it. I knew down the middle he was going to be vulnerable and it worked out.”

The goal spoiled what looked to be a victory for Los Angeles (2-1-2). The Galaxy took the lead in the 12th minute on Mike Magee’s header off an arcing corner kick from David Beckham. Magee leaped from eight yards in front of the goal to beat keeper Bill Hamid, who was making his first start of the season.

Both Hamid and Ricketts finished with three saves, and neither team generated sustained offensive pushes for much of the night. Los Angeles played without star midfielder Landon Donovan, who didn’t travel after suffering a knee injury the previous week.

That accounted for some of the Galaxy’s sluggishness, but it had nothing to do with United’s inability to generate opportunities. United took only four shots the entire game and barely threatened Los Angeles for the first 30 minutes of the second half.

“When it’s game time, can we be a team that can have the type of guys under a little pressure still find a way to play soccer?” Olsen said. “That’s what we’re striving to do. I know I probably sound a little negative for squeaking out a 1-1 tie.”

He might have sounded worse had it not been for Davies, who entered early in the second half and secured the tie after Santino Quaranta collected his second yellow card of the night in the 84th minute when he got tangled up with Los Angeles’ Omar Gonzalez. Quaranta was issued his first yellow card in the 39th minute.

The ball finally found Davies in the game’s closing stages, and his assertiveness in the box ensured a chance for United to avoid a three-game losing streak.

“Every time I’m one-on-one, I’m going to go at you,” Davies said. “We were in the box and I was able to take a good step over and get by Omar, but he put his arm up into my chest and knocked me off balance. That’s a penalty.”

After the goal, Davies raced toward a car perched behind the goal. During training on Friday, it was open; by the time Davies scored a day later, it was locked.

Perhaps it was a bit of hard luck he and his teammates couldn’t pile in for a memorable celebration. In the end, it was the only poor fortune United could claim after rallying for a point.

“We lost two in a row and were maybe a little bit unfortunate,” said defender Ethan White, a Maryland product who made his MLS debut and blocked a Magee shot in the 35th minute. “With being unlucky, we got a little lucky today.”

• Patrick Stevens can be reached at pstevens@washingtontimes.com.

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