CARSON, Calif. – The drought is over.
Minnesota United ended its nine-game road losing streak Saturday night but had to play with 10 men after rallying twice to force ties, thus escaping the StubHub Center with a 2-2 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“This point could be a big point at the end of the season,” said defender Michael Boxall, who joined Romario Ibarra in scoring the first goals of their Major League Soccer careers.
The Galaxy (10-8-6) was the first of four Western Conference playoff contenders that the Loons (9-13-2) will face on their five-game road stretch — which includes matches at FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake.
“It’s all teams that are in and around us,” Boxall said, “that we need to jump over to make sure we’re still in the playoff hunt.”
With the tie, United earned its first points on the road in more than five months.
“It’s going to be a really difficult couple of weeks for us,” coach Adrian Heath said. “But, hey, I’m so pleased for the players. When you have moments in the game, you have to score. Tonight, we did.”
Ibarra, who replaced Eric Miller in the 75th minute, forged the 2-2 tie on a counterattack in the 84th minute.
Ibson started the counterattack with a pass along the right flank to Abu Danladi, who crossed the ball to Ibarra, who struck a rising 6-yard shot that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced behind the goal line.
In the 89th minute, Francisco Calvo received his second yellow card, forcing United to play with 10 men for six minutes — five of them in stoppage time. The team endured it, and Heath departed pleased.
“I think we now have more threats going forward,” Heath said. “[Angelo] Rodriguez gives us a physical presence. We’ve got Romario and Abu to come off the bench. I stand here with a lot more confidence in our attacking pieces going on the road.”
During stoppage time, Miguel Ibarra pushed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the penalty area. Ibrahimovic fell forward, but referee Baldomero Toledo called no penalty.
Boxall forced a 1-1 tie in the 64th minute. Darwin Quintero chipped a ball from the left end line toward Boxall, whose glancing 7-yard header sailed over goalkeeper David Bingham toward the upper-right corner of the net.
But nine minutes later, Sebastian Lletget restored the Galaxy’s lead. Lletget received Jonathan dos Santos’ pass, began a solo run just outside the penalty area, beat two defenders and struck a low shot from 11 yards.
The ball barely eluded the right hand of diving goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth and settled inside the post.
United took the opening kickoff and began the game by applying pressure to Los Angeles in its own end and by shadowing Ibrahimovic with at least two markers. But Ibrahimovic enabled the Galaxy to take a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.
After a series of give-and-go passes, Ibrahimovic freed Romain Alessandrini for a run at the goal. Alessandrini beat Collen Warner and took a bouncing 27-yard shot that landed inside the rigfht post, despite Shuttlesworth’s diving grasp.
The Loons responded with more physical play, especially against Ibrahimovic. Boxall even charged deep into the hosts’ end to harass the Swedish star.
The Galaxy nearly extended its lead to 2-0 in the 32nd minute but Giovani dos Santos fired his15-yard diagonal shot inches wide of the right post.