CARSON, Calif. — Landon Donovan continued his torrid scoring pace on Wednesday, scoring his league-leading eighth goal of the season as the LA Galaxy beat Houston 1-0 at the Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy had zero shots on goal for the first 44 minutes, but were the beneficiary of a hand ball just before the halftime whistle. Houston midfielder Lovel Palmer stopped a shot by Chris Birchall with his arm, and the Galaxy were awarded a penalty kick. Donovan stepped up and easily converted the spot kick past Tally Hall to put LA up.
Donovan's eight goals have all come in the Galaxy's last seven games, and the US national team star now has 111 regular-season goals in his MLS career.
The strike was an appropriate send-off for the Galaxy captain, who will miss the club’s next two home games while he plays for the US in the Gold Cup. His next game at the HDC will likely be on July 4 against Seattle.
Houston brought some early pressure but were unable to test LA ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts. The Dynamo finished the first half with four shots, but no shots on goal.
However, the Galaxy — who played without David Beckham, who was at Gary Nevile’s Manchester United testimonial on Tuesday — were largely unable to generate much of an attack against Houston until the penalty.
The second half was much of the same as the match was bogged down in the midfield. Galaxy defenders did well to clamp down on Brad Davis and limited his service from the flanks. Davis was eventually subbed off in favor of Je-Vaughn Watson.
Houston tried to change up the attack further when Cam Weaver replaced Koke in the 74th minute. The Galaxy countered with Miguel López, who came on for Chad Barrett. Juan Pablo Ángel, who had one shot but was unable to place it on goal, was removed earlier in favor of Mike Magee.
It was Magee who nearly gave the Galaxy a 2-0 lead when he tested Hall from about 25-yards out. His shot rolled just wide of the right post, out of Hall’s reach but also out for a goal kick.
While the Dynamo were able to consistently get into the attacking third, the final ball was lacking throughout.
Houston drop to 3-4-5 overall, good for third in the Eastern Conference. They take on Texas rivals FC Dallas on Saturday. The Galaxy, meanwhile, widen their lead in the West, moving to 7-2-5. They head to New England on Saturday for a showdown with the Revolution.
LA -- Landon Donovan 8 (penalty kick) 46+
LA -- Sean Franklin (caution; Delaying a Restart) 87
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson (caution; Reckless Foul) 90
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe (Mike Chabala 46), Brad Davis (Je-Vaughn Watson 61), Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Colin Clark, Will Bruin, Koke (Cam Weaver 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Jason Garey, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Tyler Deric.
LA Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall (Jovan Kirovski 89), Landon Donovan, Juninho, Michael Stephens, Juan Pablo Angel (Mike Magee 61), Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Josh Saunders.
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Kevin Stott
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 67 degrees