Galaxy wary of tough trip to Houston

Even without Ching, Dynamo poses threat to LA's perfect start

Sean Franklin

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The next two weeks should seem like a familiar run for the Galaxy. On Saturday, the club visits Texas for a tilt against the Houston Dynamo and then return home to face Real Salt Lake.

The last time the Galaxy played Houston and RSL within a week of each other, a championship was on the line.

In order to get back to that level, Los Angeles will have to try and deal with a tricky Houston side in a tough environment. The Galaxy are 1-2-2 all-time at Robertson Stadium and haven't scored a goal there since 2007. But Houston didn't score against the Galaxy in their lone meeting there last year, either.

The Galaxy expect nothing but a tough game from Dynamo.

“We still have to come out and look to start off well,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “In both games we came out of the gates well and got an early goal. That makes a big difference when you can put the other team on their heels and have them chase the game. We really want to start off well, and we did that.”

Houston will be missing a key piece of its puzzle. Forward Brian Ching injured his hamstring against Real Salt Lake on April 1 and was ruled out for four to six weeks. In his place, Houston coach Dominic Kinnear might turn to Luis Ángel Landín, who replaced Ching against RSL.

With Landín up top instead of Ching, Houston changes a little bit.

“It’s a different look,” Dunivant said. “Ching has been one of the best forwards in this league for the last six years so he’s a dangerous guy. They’ll definitely miss him. Landín brings a different set of problems for you. He’s a target striker. He’s crafty, too.”

Against RSL, Landín showed his craftiness. He held the ball inside the box and drew contact from RSL defender Jámison Olave. Landín hit the ground and drew a penalty kick.

Still, even a possible embellishment is not reason for the Galaxy to alter their game plan.

“That’s the job of the referee,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “You can’t play a game concerned about players trying to sell fouls. It’s part of the game and I think it’s the job of the referee to get those calls right.”

Landín, though, isn’t the player with whom the Galaxy seem most concerned.

“[Geoff] Cameron and [Brad] Davis are their most dangerous players,” Galaxy right back Sean Franklin said. “Cameron is a guy who can get the ball in the middle and play balls wide, and he’s looking to get into the box and get his height on some of those crosses so we’ve just got to be around them. Brad Davis loves to use his left foot. We’ve just got to be around them and making sure we don’t lose track of where they are on the field.”

Tactics aside, Galaxy players said what mattered more was their intensity.

“We have to bring it,” Franklin said. “When we go there this weekend we have to come out with that same mentality, that we’re not going to let someone out-pressure us.”