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Mwanga's goal salvages Union's tie with Galaxy

Danny Mwanga was inserted at halftime to spice up the Union's offense Wednesday night, and he accomplished that goal by scoring one himself.

Danny Mwanga scored his first goal of the season in the Union's tie with the Galaxy. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)
Danny Mwanga scored his first goal of the season in the Union's tie with the Galaxy. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)Read more

Danny Mwanga was inserted at halftime to spice up the Union's offense Wednesday night, and he accomplished that goal by scoring one himself.

Mwanga couldn't have picked a more opportune time to hit the scoring column, turning what looked like a sure defeat into a 1-1 tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy before a record crowd of 19,178 at PPL Park.

Stealing a back pass from Sean Franklin, Mwanga dribbled past sliding keeper Donovan Ricketts, then deposited the goal from close range in the 84th minute.

Franklin "probably didn't expect me to get to the ball before the goalkeeper," Mwanga said. "I anticipated pretty well, got there first, and was able to finish it."

The Union are 4-2-2, while Los Angeles is 4-2-5.

Mwanga, who scored seven goals last season as a rookie, said hitting the scoring column was a big relief.

"You need to get that first one out of the way, and now I can focus on trying to get more goals to help the team," he said.

Besides Mwanga, the Union received a major spark from Jack McInerney, who entered the game in the 80th minute.

Ricketts preserved the tie with a diving save on McInerney from just outside the box in the 89th minute.

McInerney had another chance in stoppage time, but his head ball went wide.

With one star given the night off, the other took over for the Galaxy. Landon Donovan continued his torrid scoring spree to give Los Angeles a 1-0 first-half lead.

Galaxy midfielder David Beckham had the game off. With three games in an eight-day period ending Saturday in Los Angeles against Sporting Kansas City, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena decided to leave the 36-year-old Beckham home to rest.

The Union, who have not scored more than one goal in any game, wished that Donovan had joined him.

Los Angeles struck in the 24th minute when Donovan actually set up his own goal. He made an outstanding heel pass to a streaking Juan Pablo Angel, who took a few dribbles and then fanned on the ball.

Donovan was following the play and got the loose ball, connecting from 12 yards. He has scored the Galaxy's last five goals. It was his fifth of the season in seven games.

In addition to Beckham, Union team manager Peter Nowak also missed the game. He was in his native Poland participating in a charity soccer match. Assistant coach John Hackworth ran the team.

"We showed a lot in coming back, but we're always hoping to get three points at home," Hackworth said.

The Union received a stellar performance from goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who took one for the team by playing hurt. According to Hackworth, Mondragon suffered a groin strain in the 72d minute but stayed in the game.

Before that, he made a diving save on Chris Birchall's blast from just inside the box.

"By him staying in the game it allowed us to bring in Jack [McInerney] into the game," Hackworth said. "You can't say enough about what he did."

Hackworth said Mondragon would be evaluated Thursday. He considered the keeper questionable for Saturday's game at FC Dallas.