HOUSTON - The LA Galaxy gave Giles Barnes a clear chance to take the lead in their tight encounter, and he made no mistakes to give the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.
In a tight-knit game, the normally sure-handed LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and Dan Gargan gave Houston an inch and the Dynamo took a mile and goal for good measure. The Panamanian stalwart misplayed Gargan's ill-advised throw-in and rookie Mark Sherrod was quick to take possession and find Barnes in the 61st minute. Barnes then hit a skillful shot using the inside of his right foot to go to the far post and give Houston a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish in front of a sellout crowd of 22,223.
There was bad news for the Dynamo, however, as Honduras international Boniek Garcia - who is due to join his national team Sunday - left the game in the 18th minute with an injured right leg. After attempting a pass, Garcia reached for his right leg and immediately called for a sub, which wound up being Omar Cummings.
With the win Houston (5-5-2) improves to 17 points, which is currently good for second place in the Eastern Conference. LA (2-3-4) continue their slow start to the season and their current winless streak runs to four games.
Both teams managed World Cup absences in the match, as Houston's Brad Davis and the Galaxy pair of Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez were away to partake in the US national team's pre-tournament camp in Stanford, Calif.
The first half of the cross-conference tilt was lively and it came inches away from starting in disaster for Houston. Nineteen seconds into the game, Samuel muscled past David Horst before hitting a shot that curled wide right.
After the early scare, things settled down and neither team was able to put their stamp on the game. Both teams worked to create sustained build-ups, but were relegated to shots mostly from distance.
Houston's best chance of the half came off a half-volley from Barnes off a Kofi Sarkodie cross. The Englishman found space just outside the six-yard box, but his shot was handled by a diving Penedo save.
After two Juninho long-range attempts, AJ DeLaGarza provided the Galaxy with its biggest chance. Robbie Keane played a ball to DeLaGarza, whose ensuing shot beat Tally Hall but was cleared off the goal line by Horst.
Andrew Driver came close to finding the opener, too. Cummings whipped in a ball from the right flank that found an open Driver at the far post in the 58th minute, but the shot that followed found nothing but the woodwork.
Three minutes later, Barnes clinched the three points for the Dynamo with a well-taken effort following a Galaxy gaffe in their defensive third.
Both clubs will have short turnarounds before they return to action. Houston travel to face D.C. United on Wednesday and LA will return home to host F.C. Dallas that same night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||David Horst||Was almost beat for the opener seconds in, but clamped down and helped Houston keep Robbie Keane in check. His headed clearance in the second half was instrumental in the win.|
|2||Omar Cummings||Came off the bench for an injured Boniek Garcia, and put forth arguably his best performance of the season. He was active throughout and looked like the most dangerous Dynamo attacker for large stretches.|
|3||Giles Barnes||Perfectly slotted home the winner after a Galaxy miscue at the back, and also was involved in several promising attacks.|