Sacha Klejstan scored a winner from the penalty spot for the second consecutive game and the LA Galaxy took another big step toward the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 3-0 victory over Houston Dynamo FC at PNC Stadium on Wednesday evening.

After his dramatic late winner against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Kljestan was spot on once more for the Galaxy to break the deadlock in the 39th minute. A Zarek Valentin own goal and Kevin Cabral finish on either side of halftime then made the three points safe and ensured LA will remain in the Western Conference playoff places by the end of Week 31. It also gave Greg Vanney his 100th regular-season victory as a head coach in Major League Soccer.

An already eliminated Houston side gave the visitors plenty to worry about in the early stages, though. On several occasions, the in-form Darwin Quintero threatened to break the deadlock, forcing Jonathan Bond into a smart save with a sneaky free kick and then twice feeding Maxi Urruti, who might have done better with the opportunities.

The Galaxy had early chances of their own, too. Efrain Alvarez clattered the outside of the post in the first minute with a shot from distance and then fed Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez for a well-struck volley that, fortunately for the Dynamo, was straight at goalkeeper Michael Nelson.

The opening goal could have gone either way, but crucially it went to the Galaxy. Veteran Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa over-committed with a challenge in the box as both he and Cabral tried to reach a low cross. After the official pointed to the spot, Kljestan made no mistake.

Within just a few minutes on either side of the interval, the game was effectively settled. Again the Dynamo contributed to their own downfall on the second goal as Valentin, facing his own net, stretched to intercept Alvarez's low cross from the endline but only succeeded in turning it past Nelson.

The Dynamo needed a big response after the halftime break but instead they conceded a third goal less than two minutes into the second half. Houston's defense was carved wide open by Hernandez's pass to Cabral streaking free down the left. The French forward sidestepped a rash challenge from a covering defender and beat Nelson to his near post to bag the third goal and all three points.

Goals

  • 39' – LA – Sacha Kljestan (PK) | WATCH
  • 45+1' – LA – Zarek Valentin (OG) | WATCH
  • 47' – LA – Kevin Cabral | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: After a terrible run of nine games without a win that threatened to upend their once comfortable playoff place, the LA Galaxy have bounced back at just the right time. With back-to-back wins and a home game upcoming against the already-eliminated FC Dallas on Saturday, Greg Vanney's crew should once again feel confident about their postseason hopes. After their best result of the season with a 2-1 win over Seattle last time out, there were again positive signs from Houston in the early stages on Wednesday. But the way they folded after going behind will be a real disappointment for head coach Tab Ramos.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Kljestan has now come up big in two straight games, showing a cool head to settle Galaxy nerves and send them on the way to victory.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: This was a real team effort for the Galaxy, with particular plaudits to Kljestan, Alvarez and Chicharito. But having won the penalty for the opening goal and scoring the third himself, the honors go to Kevin Cabral.

Next Up

  • HOU: Sunday, October 24 at Austin FC | 5 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
  • LA: Saturday, October 23 vs. FC Dallas | 10 pm ET (UniMás, TUDN, Twitter)