Game Recap: LA Galaxy vs Houston

The Galaxy’s road woes continue in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

August 20, 2014.  Over 11 months ago, this was the last time the Galaxy won an MLS game on the road.  LA made their first road trip of the Gerrard era and melted down in the heat and in the face of Houston’s counterattack.  Neither Head Coach Bruce Arena or the players would use the weather as an excuse for the team’s uninspired performance but clearly it was a factor.

“The other team dealt with the same conditions.”
—LA Galaxy Head Coach/GM Bruce Arena

LA had control of the ball throughout the match with nearly 70% possession in the first half, dropping to 61% over the full 90 minutes. Unfortunately, they showed that possession is only worthwhile if you do something with it and Houston was able to shut down the passing lanes, limiting the Galaxy to only 7 shots on the night.

The Dynamo were able to take advantage of their lesser possession, peppering LA goalkeeper Brian Rowe with 14 shots, 7 of which were on target. Houston forward Will Bruin took advantage of a poorly timed slide by Galaxy defender Leonardo to send a nicely placed pass from forward Brad Davis past Rowe for his ninth goal of the season in the ninth minute of play.  Just 18 minutes later Davis found himself with space about 22 yards from the net and converted a pass from midfielder Nathan Sturgis for his first goal of the campaign. Robbie Keane and Bradford Jamieson IV both had the ball close to net in the first half but Houston’s defenders swarmed them each time and eliminated the threat.

The Galaxy made a change to start the second half, replacing Jamieson IV with Edson Buddle, but it made little difference. Steven Gerrard had an uncharacteristic poor touch in the 52nd minute, giving the ball up to Houston’s Alex just outside the area; Alex’s shot was just wide of the net. Rowe made a difficult save on a shot from Davis in the 79th minute as he was headed to his right and had to drop back to his left, just managing to get his hand on the ball, pushing the ball barely past the post. A couple of minutes later Rowe again made a nice save, blocking a shot from the debuting Erick “Cubo” Torres. The Galaxy’s Ariel Lassiter, making his debut from the Galaxy II team, provided LA’s best opportunity of the second half with a long shot from around the corner of the area in the 85th minute, the ball sailing just over the net. Houston’s Leonel Miranda then capped the scoring in the 88th minute, knocking a ball through four LA defenders off the near post and into the net.

“We killed ourselves. Eight minutes into the game, we conceded a sloppy goal and then another goal. That’s two goals that we could’ve avoided. And then you’re playing away from home in that humidity, it’s always difficult when you’re chasing the game. Tonight we made it hard on ourselves.”
—LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane

While the result was disappointing for the Galaxy, the performance of Galaxy II youngsters Lassiter and defender David Romney provided some hope for the future. Lassiter, coming off his first team debut against FC Barcelona earlier in the week, showed some speed, ball handling, and awareness that could make him a significant threat in years to come. Romney also played well filling in for Robbie Rogers, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Romney could see more time this season with Rogers and Todd Dunivant ahead of him on the depth chart, though the return of Omar Gonzalez from USMNT duties might make A.J. Delagarza another option at outside defender.

“I think I did pretty well. Definitely not as good as I would have wanted but I think I did pretty good for a rookie.”
—LA Galaxy defender David Romney

“Romney did a good job. Lassiter, he’s a young kid but Romney, on the night could have been our best player.”
—Bruce Arena

Also notable on the night was the Houston debut of “Cubo” Torres. He entered the game as a second half substitute and managed two shots, one on goal.  Torres, the former Chivas USA and Guadalajara player, is another of the promising young players who are making MLS their home.

The Galaxy’s next game will be against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, August 1. LA dropped to 3rd place in the Western Conference but will look to get the road monkey off their back against last place Colorado. The Galaxy should be at full strength with the return of Gyasi Zardes, Alan Gordon, Omar Gonzalez, and Jaime Penedo from the Gold Cup. Robbie Keane did pick up a shoulder injury during the match but no update has been released at this time.

Saturday’s game coverage starts at 6:00 PM and will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. Radio coverage will be on The Beast 980 AM and 1220 AM.