Landon Donovan continued his torrid scoring pace on Wednesday, scoring his league-leading eighth goal of the season as the LA Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo 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 controversial handball call just before the halftime whistle. Houston midfielder Lovel Palmer stopped a shot by Chris Birchall, and referee Chris Penso ruled he did so with his arm, awarding the Galaxy 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 U.S. 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 United States in the Gold Cup.
Houston brought some early pressure but was unable to test Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The Dynamo finished the first half with four shots, but none 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, but his shot rolled just wide of the right post. While the Dynamo were able to consistently get into the attacking third, the final ball was lacking throughout. Houston's best chance came when Mike Chabala was denied by Ricketts from close range.
Houston drops to 3-4-5 overall, third in the Eastern Conference. The Dynamo 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.
Houston Dynamo (3-4-5) vs. LA Galaxy (7-2-5)
May 25, 2011 -- The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA
LA -- Landon Donovan 8 (penalty kick) 46+
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 91+), Landon Donovan, Juninho,
Michael Stephens, Juan Pablo Angel (Mike Magee 61), Chad Barrett (Miguel
Substitutes Not Used: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Josh Saunders.
LA -- Sean Franklin (caution; Delaying a Restart) 87
HOU -- Je-Vaughn Watson (caution; Reckless Foul) 90
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Kevin Stott
Weather: Clear-and-67 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial