CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy dictated terms most of the evening in an often thrilling, mostly frustrating, encounter with the visiting Montreal Impact on Saturday night. The precision that has informed their attacking play at StubHub Center the past couple of months was absent in uncharacteristically muggy conditions, as the defenses for both teams shined bright.
LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made two big first-half saves and forward Robbie Keane came close on a one-on-one opportunity about 10 minutes before the break as the Galaxy (13-8-8, 47pts) settled for a 0-0 draw that left them third in the Western Conference, a point from leaders Vancouver and behind Dallas on the total victories tiebreaker.
The Impact (9-11-5, 32pts), who hold onto sixth in the East, nearly scored twice in the first 15 minutes and threatened at the finish, but Ricketts claimed his first shutout in six games since returning to the Galaxy at the end of July.
Didier Drogba, playing his first road game for Montreal, struggled to have an imprint on the match and looked like he might depart after hobbling off the field just before halftime. He looked sharp in the second half and came closest to giving the Impact a late victory.
The draw ended a six-game home MLS winning streak for LA, which outscored opposition 27-5 during that stretch, and a nine-game home competitive streak in which they scored 43 goals and conceded just seven; with five or more goals on seven different occasions.
The Galaxy replaced suspended defender Leonardo with rookie Dave Romney and positioned Giovani Dos Santos on the right flank, with Gyasi Zardes joining Keane up top. Dos Santos and Zardes swapped spots midway through the first half, and Zardes went up front again when the Mexican star exited at halftime with a sore groin.
Montreal made just two changes from last week's win at Chicago. Center back Victor Cabrera returned from suspension, Donny Toia took his usual spot at left back, and center back Laurent Ciman served the first game of a two-game red-card suspension, replaced by Wandrille Lefevre.
The Impact came out firing with Justin Mapp nearly scoring two minutes in, taking a pass from Ignacio Piatti on the right side of the box and firing toward the far post. A leaping Ricketts parried the ball. Then Andres Romero put the ball into the net six minutes later, finishing after Ricketts stopped a Piatti shot but spilled the rebound. It was waved off because he was offside throughout the play. Minutes later Ricketts handled a sharp Romero shot.
The Galaxy were in charge most of the rest of the way, putting heavy pressure on Montreal's defense which did well to win the aerial battles and clog the lanes to prevent LA from getting much from their territorial advantage.
LA's best chance of the half arrived in the 35th minute. Romney beat Piatti to the ball in the air at midfield, then Juninho collected it and sent a long through ball that split Cabrera and Wandrille Lefevre leaving Keane alone with Bush. The keeper was able to get a piece of the ball, and Lefevre nodded it over his crossbar to safety.
LA had plenty more opportunities, but their passing wasn't adequate and the Impact's spirited defense did its job impeccably.
Mapp, whose foot had been stepped upon, exited in the 37th minute for Oduro. Drogba went down in the 41st with what appeared to be a left-hamstring injury. He struggled to run the rest of the half, but was in better shape when the teams returned after the break.
The Impact found their attack again about 10 minutes into the second half, and Drogba was most dangerous on a run along the right byline in the 57th minute. He beat Juninho on the dribble, then was blocked by Ricketts at the near post. The ball ricocheted off Juninho and toward the goalmouth, and Romney headed it away.
The Galaxy was on the front foot the rest of the way, but their forays forward broke down in Montreal's penalty area.
Alan Gordon came on for LA and Dilly Duka for Montreal in the 74th, with Johan Venegas replacing Piatti nine minutes later, but the only dangerous chances the rest of the way were product of Drogba runs. A,J. DeLaGarza halted a long spring at the top of the box in the 85th minute, and the Ivorian star fired just wide of the far post from the right side of the Galaxy box two minutes later.
The Galaxy visit Real Salt Lake next Saturday (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The Impact head to San Jose for a game Wednesday against the Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), then return home to face New England next Saturday (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE).