The Houston Dynamo clinched second place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 victory over a reserve-laden LA Galaxy lineup in the final MLS regular-season game of 2011 in front of 30,018 fans at Robertson Stadium on Sunday night.
With goals from Adam Moffat, Bobby Boswell, and Carlo Costly, the Dynamo took care of business against an LA side that took advantage of having clinched the Supporters’ Shield by resting all of its regulars except goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defender A.J. DeLaGarza.
After a sluggish start for both teams, Moffat started the fireworks by hitting a sterling strike from 38 yards out to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead. In a pack of Galaxy and Dynamo players, Moffat found a sliver of space and took his chance with a rocket to the upper 90 to beat an outstretched Ricketts.
The scoreline held until just minutes after halftime, when Boswell found space on a free kick to line a shot past a frozen Ricketts in the 48th minute. Moffat was credited with an assist for heading down Brad Davis’ free kick to the defender, who took his chance well.
Costly got in on the act in the 74th minute, heading home an excellent Davis cross – who clinched the MLS assist title on the play with 16 on the year – for the third and final goal and salt away a victory. The Honduran national-teamer found space at the back post and rose above Dasan Robinson to score his first Dynamo goal.
For LA, it was a night to get its reserves some action and stay away from injuries before the playoffs. Sean Franklin returned for his first minutes since Sept. 9, and 16-year-old Jack McBean made his MLS debut, starting up top with Jovan Kirovski.
LA challenged Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall just once on the night, but made it count two minutes from the final whistle when Chad Barrett set up McBean inside the 18-yard-box after a through ball from Michael Stephens. The youngster took a touch before hitting a hard right-footed shot past a scrambling Hall to punctuate his MLS debut with a goal.
With the victory, Houston finishes the season with 49 points and booked a conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Union – with the first game on Oct. 29 at PPL Park and the return leg on Nov. 3 at Robertson Stadium. LA finished the season with 67 points and will await the lowest wildcard seed for a conference semifinal matchup.
LA Galaxy (19-5-10) vs. Houston Dynamo (12-9-13)
October 23, 2011 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
HOU -- Adam Moffat 2 (unassisted) 27
HOU -- Bobby Boswell 5 (unassisted) 48
HOU -- Carlo Costly 1 (Brad Davis 16) 74
LA -- Jack McBean 1 (Chad Barrett 5, Michael Stephens 1) 88
LA Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Frankie Hejduk (Ryan Thomas 77), Gregg Berhalter (Sean Franklin 46), Dasan Robinson, A.J. DeLaGarza, Hector Jimenez, Chris Birchall, Dan Keat, Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski (Chad Barrett 63), Jack McBean.
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk, Juninho, Miguel Lopez, Miguel Lopez.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz (Colin Clark 81), Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Carlo Costly 63), Calen Carr (Will Bruin 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Tyler Deric, Hunter Freeman, Jermaine Taylor, Je-Vaughn Watson.
HOU -- Andre Hainault (caution; Reckless Foul) 43
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 44
LA -- Jovan Kirovski (caution; Reckless Foul) 49
HOU -- Carlo Costly (caution; Shirt Removal) 75
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Jasen Anno