CARSON, Calif. (AP)—Los Angeles star Landon Donovan limped off with a knee injury with about 10 minutes left in the Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night, creating doubt whether he will be available for the United States’ upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda, and Guatemala.
The 30-year-old midfielder, who missed last month’s qualifiers against Jamaica because of a hamstring injury, hurt his left knee after contact with Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave in the RSL box in the 81st minute. He required medical attention on the field, then limped off and walked gingerly to the Galaxy bench.
Donovan said he did not hear a pop, which frequently accompanies a ligament tears, but that the extent of the damage wasn’t known.
“We have no idea,” he said. “We have to get it worked out. … It didn’t feel good.”
The Americans figure to need at least a win and a tie when they play at Antigua on Friday and host Guatemala on Oct. 16 at Kansas City, Kan. Those are the final two games in the semifinal round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Asked if he would miss the games, Donovan replied: “TBD.”
The U.S. also could be missing Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, who left his team’s game against San Jose on Sept. 29 in the 69th minute.
Fabian Espindola scored in the 25th and 28th minutes to help Real Salt Lake (17-11-4) overcome an early deficit to pull five points ahead of the Galaxy (15-12-5) and six in front of Seattle in the battle for second place in the Western Conference. RSL and L.A. have two games remaining; Seattle, which plays Portland on Sunday, has four left.
The fourth-place team must win a wild-card game to enter the playoff bracket.
The Galaxy struck first, on a superb Robbie Keane volley in the 17th minute, but struggled to break down RSL’s defense in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy created four outstanding opportunities in the first 17 minutes — Landon Donovan shots were blocked twice in the box, and Juninho hit the crossbar — and finally went ahead when Keane volleyed a Juninho cross through the goalmouth and inside the right post, his 15th goal of the campaign.
That awakened RSL, which took charge with two quick strikes. Saborio evened the tally eight minutes later, finishing a feed from Alvaro Saborio after dummying Javier Morales’ ball toward the top of the Galaxy box, then scored again about 2 1/2 minutes after that, finding space above two defenders to sharply head home a Morales cross from the right wing.
“Fabian had another just fantastic night,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “Terrific what he did with the ball. He scored two great goals, but then also defensively put himself in some really great positions to help out team.”
“We did start well,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Their first goal came a little bit against the run of play, but we were sloppy defending in our penalty area, not real sharp with our attacking play in the other penalty area. We just weren’t sharp enough for ninety minutes. In the early going we were OK. We played a sloppy game today.”
RSL has win four of its last five games. The loss was just L.A.’s second since the Fourth of July and ended its seven-game unbeaten streak.