The LA Galaxy gave Giles Barnes a clear chance to take the lead in their tight encounter, and he made no mistakes to give the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.
In a tight-knit game, the normally sure-handed LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo gave Houston an inch and the Dynamo took a mile and goal for good measure. The Panamanian stalwart misplayed a Dan Gargan throw-in and rookie Mark Sherrod was quick to take possession and find Barnes in the 61st minute. Barnes then hit a skillful shot using the inside of his right foot to go to the far post and give Houston a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish in front of a sellout crowd of 22,223.
There was bad news for the Dynamo, however, as Honduras international Boniek García—who is due to join his national team Sunday—left the game in the 18th minute with an injured right leg. After attempting a pass, Garcia reached for his right leg and immediately called for a sub, which wound up being Omar Cummings.
With the win Houston (5-5-2) improves to 17 points, which is currently good for second place in the Eastern Conference. LA (2-3-4) continue their slow start to the season and their current winless streak runs to four games.
Both teams managed World Cup absences in the match, as Houston's Brad Davis and the Galaxy pair of Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez were away to partake in the US national team's pre-tournament camp in Stanford, Calif.
The first half of the cross-conference tilt was lively and it came inches away from starting in disaster for Houston. Nineteen seconds into the game, Samuel muscled past David Horst before hitting a shot that curled wide right.
After the early scare, things settled down and neither team was able to put their stamp on the game. Both teams worked to create sustained build-ups, but were relegated to shots mostly from distance.
Houston's best chance of the half came off a half-volley from Barnes off a Kofi Sarkodie cross. The Englishman found space just outside the six-yard box, but his shot was handled by a diving Penedo save.
After two Juninho long-range attempts, A.J. DeLaGarza provided the Galaxy with its biggest chance. Robbie Keane played a ball to DeLaGarza, whose ensuing shot beat Tally Hall but was cleared off the goal line by Horst.
Andrew Driver came close to finding the opener, too. Cummings whipped in a ball from the right flank that found an open Driver at the far post in the 58th minute, but the shot that followed found nothing but the woodwork.
Three minutes later, Barnes clinched the three points for the Dynamo with a well-taken effort following a Galaxy gaffe in their defensive third.
Both clubs will have short turnarounds before they return to action. Houston travel to face D.C. United on Wednesday and LA will return home to host FC Dallas that same night.
Houston Dynamo (5-5-2; 17 points) vs. LA Galaxy (2-3-3; 9 points)
MLS regular season
May 17, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Attendance: 22,233 (sellout)
Houston: Giles Barnes 3 (Mark Sherrod 1) 61
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Boniek García (Omar Cummings 23, Brian Ownby 87), Warren Creavalle, Giles Barnes, Andrew Driver; Will Bruin, Mark Sherrod
Unused substitutes: Tyler Deric, AJ Cochran, Alexander López, Jason Johnson
LA Galaxy: Jamie Penedo; Dan Gargan, Kofi Opare, Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza; Stefan Ishizaki, Juninho, Baggio Husidic (Robbie Rogers 70) Robbie Keane; Rob Friend (Gyasi Zardes 58), Samuel Rosa (Raul Mendiola 66)
Unused Substitutes: Brian Rowe, Leonardo, Kenney Walker, Chandler Hoffman
HOU: Jermaine Taylor (caution) 17
LA: A.J. DeLaGarza (caution) 19
LA: Kofi Opare (caution) 76
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
Fourth Official: Chris Penso