CARSON, Calif. -- Robbie Keane was back on the field for the first time in seven weeks Friday night, and it made all the difference for the LA Galaxy.
Keane, who had missed the previous seven games with a groin injury, ignited an LA attack, then set up Alan Gordon for a stoppage-time header that gave the Galaxy a 1-0 triumph over the visiting Houston Dynamo, ending their five-game winless skid.
Gordon's goal, a looping header over goalkeeper Tyler Deric and into the left-post netting from Keane's cross, was LA's third stoppage-time strike of the season. Gordon's 93rd-minute header gave them a 2-2 draw in Portland in mid-March, and Omar Gonzalez volleyed them to a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in mid-April.
The Galaxy looked closer to last year's model, which employed an exquisite possession game marked by constant interchange and ball movement, than at any time in the first two and a half months of the campaign, but Houston offered them little space in the final third, and LA struggled to turn their dominance into chances most of the night.
The Dynamo, who claimed a point in their first visit to StubHub Center in March, had come in with a two-game winning streak. LA, which had lost their last two, extended their unbeaten streak at StubHub to 28 games, including road victories last year over Chivas USA and a CONCACAF Champions League win over Club Tijuana 14 months ago.
Keane, who had been out with a groin injury since an April 4 loss at Vancouver, came on in the 56th minute, made his presence felt almost immediately, but chances were hard to come by in a spirited and often entertaining clash. Jose Villarreal, making his first start since late March after returning from a hamstring injury, teamed up front with Gyasi Zardes.
Oscar Sorto got the call at left back, his first MLS start, and looked good until he was red-carded following Gordon's goal for taking down Dynamo defender David Horst from behind as they chased a clearance after a Houston corner kick.
Houston used the same lineup as in last week's victory over Portland, with captain Brad Davis making his 350th league appearance, sixth on the MLS all-time list and fourth among field players.
LA dictated play throughout the first half but struggled to penetrate the Dynamo's packed-in defense, which left little space for the Galaxy to exploit. More often than not they failed to come up with a shot, or at least one on frame, when they worked into the Houston box.
The Dynamo were satisfied to counter, with Boniek García and DaMarcus Beasley threading balls to the forwards. They nearly went ahead in the ninth minute, when Garcia chipped a ball past Leonardo and onto the path of Will Bruin, but goalkeeper Jamie Penedo came off his line, and Bruin's shot hit his upper torso and went wide.
The Galaxy are home again Wednesday against Real Salt Lake, then play at New England the following Sunday. The Dynamo play next Saturday at New York City FC.
Houston Dynamo (4-5-4, 16 points) at LA Galaxy (4-4-5, 17 points)
MLS regular season
May 22, 2015 — StubHub Center, Carson, CA
LA Galaxy: Alan Gordon 4 (Robbie Keane 1) 90+2
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Raúl Rodríguez, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek García (Alexander López 65), Luis Garrido (Nathan Sturgis 54), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis ©; Giles Barnes, Will Bruin (Rob Lovejoy 88)
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Willis, Chandler Hoffman, Kofi Sarkodie, Leonel Miranda
LA Galaxy: Jaime Penedo; Oscar Sorto, Omar González ©, Leonardo, Dan Gargan; Baggio Husidic, Juninho, Mika Väyrynen (Robbie Keane 56), Stefan Ishizaki (Ignacio Maganto 85); Jose Villarreal (Alan Gordon 68), Gyasi Zardes
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Rowe, Tommy Meyer, Rafael Garcia, Kenney Walker
LA: Stefan Ishizaki (caution) 24
HOU: Raúl Rodríguez (caution) 43
LA: Juninho (caution) 58
HOU: Giles Barnes (caution) 82
LA: Alan Gordon (caution) 90+3
LA: Oscar Sorto (ejection) 90+6
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Marco Arruda
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal