In a rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup, Houston and LA continued to go in opposite directions in their 2012 campaigns, with the Dynamo fighting for a 2-1 comeback victory against the Galaxy on a steamy Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston, now undefeated in four, sent LA to their third-consecutive defeat and eighth overall by capitalizing on Mike McGee’s own goal in the 38th minute when Andre Hainault marked his 100th MLS start by heading Brad Davis’ in-swinger into the bottom corner in the 57th minute.
The Galaxy (3-8-2) continued their nightmare start, and are now winless in seven games and sit in last place in the Western Conference on 11 points. Houston (4-3-4) won their second game at their new home after drawing twice following their 1-0 victory against D.C. United in the stadium opener.
After going down in the first 10 minutes when Edson Buddle coolly slotted the ball past Tally Hall, Houston’s pressure started to match the 90-degree heat, putting LA on the back foot.
Magee’s own goal was their eventual reward. Brian Ching, who came close to equalizing twice but sent his shots over the bar, controlled a well-placed feed from Je-Vaughn Watson and found a tight angle to his liking, crushing a shot off the crossbar and leaving the Galaxy winger in a bang-bang situation. Unfortunately for Magee and the Galaxy, his attempt to bring the ball down resulted in a rebound into an empty net to even the match.
Houston continued to push forward, and both Will Bruin and Watson came close to giving the home side the lead in the first half but, like their captain, they sent their chances over the crossbar despite quality service from Houston’s left-sided duo of Davis and Corey Ashe.
LA suffered yet another defeat in a game that looked, at least early on, like it could be the nudge in the right direction the defending MLS champions have been looking for. Without stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, who were both away on international duty, the Galaxy found early success when Buddle broke out of his scoring slump to make it 1-0 in the 10th minute.
Buddle, David Beckham and Chad Barrett carved up the Dynamo defense with three excellent passes, and the ball ended up at the feet of the LA forward, who exploited space between Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault to slot home a smooth right-to-left finish and break his 10-game streak without a goal.
Bryan Jordan appeared to have given LA a two-goal lead in the 29th minute, but the celebrations were short lived. The midfielder collected a ball just outside the six-yard box and fired it past Hall, but the assistant referee’s raised flag negated the play.
LA came inches away from taking a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute when Beckham showed his class, hitting a bending shot from a 25-yard free kick that Hall did well to parry away. That was the last real chance the defending champions had to salvage a result.
After Hainault’s winner, the final 33 minutes unfolded with few chances. Houston put their foot on the ball, slowing the pace in the heat and providing few chances for the visiting Galaxy to climb back into the match.
Both clubs will take a break from MLS play next weekend, but will begin U.S. Open Cup play this week. LA will travel to Carolina to take on the RailHawks on Tuesday, while Houston travels to San Antonio to face the Scorpions on May 29 before hosting Valencia CF in the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup on May 31.