Landon Donovan added to his league leading goal tally with his eighth- the only goal of the match at Home Depot Center.The Los Angeles Galaxy may have missed midfielder David Beckham, but they didn’t miss a beat on the field, beating the Houston Dynamo 1-0, on a Landon Donovan penalty kick to stay top of the league.
The Houston Dynamo, perhaps recalling classic duels with the Galaxy back when they both were Western Conference teams, started the game looking lively in the attack.
However, the home squad was able to withstand this energetic display, and after the first ten minutes, the possession in the match was more even.
The Galaxy settled for a succession of outside shots and set plays, however, with little in the way of an effective attack.
The exception to that was in the 27th minute when a good Galaxy attack set up Todd Dunivant for a shot that missed wide. The defender, playing in his 200th MLS match, had a chance to stamp the occasion with a goal, but couldn’t make good on his attempt.
In the 40th minute, the Galaxy again had an excellent set up, and the incoming cross to Landon Donovan was fanned on by goalkeeper Tally Hall, leaving the goal completely open. However, a Houston defender slid in at the last moment to cut off the pass from reaching Donovan.
Houston’s dynamic start had fizzled into a defensive posture, and though the Galaxy were doing their best to break that down, it wasn’t happening until very late in the first half.
A poor outside shot by Chirs Birchall nevertheless bore fruit, because though the ball was headed wide, it caught defender Lovel Palmer on the hand. Palmer was holding his arm away from his body, and that was enough for referee Chris Penso to point to the spot.
Donovan made sure of the penalty, which also kept him on top of the MLS scoring charts with eight goals. Immediately after the goal, the whistle blew for halftime.
More determined to keep their lead than score another goal, the Galaxy played a very cagey second half.
Juan Pablo Angel got one of the few chances via a header in the 58th minute. The striker was subbed for Mike Magee soon after, probably to save his energy during the Galaxy’s busy stretch of games.
Houston did get some chances on the counter, most notably when a Houston attacker forced Donovan Rickets to acrobatically clear an incoming pass with his knee.
Lopez nearly got a square ball to Magee in the 83rd, but the Dynamo were able to block out the pass.
Birchall fought through numerous defenders in the 84th minute to get a chance at goal, but wore himself out in the buildup and sent his attempt comically wide.
Hainault shoulder-shoved Franklin into the scorer’s table in the 87th minute, and when the Galaxy defender retaliated with a push, he was given a yellow card. The crowd booed the referee lustily.
Houston was perhaps frustrated at their lack of chances late in the game, as Geoff Cameron’s desperation outside shot in the 89th went left of the goal.
Je-Vaughn Watson bowled over Magee a minute later, earning a yellow of his own.
Long passes into the box made stoppage time a bit nerve-wracking for Galaxy fans, but finally the whistle blew and the win, three points and the shutout were safe.
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