CARSON, Calif -- The LA Galaxy (4-2-2, 14 pts) never quite got the car running, and as a result lost to the Houston Dynamo (5-2-2, 17 pts) 1-0 Sunday night at The Home Depot Center in front of 20,071 fans. There was a brief burst of rain, but it brought none of the MLS Cup magic that LA fans have come accustomed to. Landon Donovan missed a penalty kick, but that was about as close as the Galaxy got to truly trying Tally Hall.
LA managed nineteen attempts on goal, but with only two on target the vast majority of those shots were simply wasted possession. Lack of caring while on the ball would be a theme on the night, as the Galaxy repeatedly turned the ball over in the midfield leading to Houston counters.
On Houston's goal, Marcelo Sarvas sent up a long ball that Tally Hall was able to control then throw out to the wing starting a Dynamo attack. Giles Barnes sent a ball back diagonally across the penalty box to the trailing man Andrew Driver who struck it in stride. The Galaxy didn't value the ball enough and were slow to respond when Houston did.
As for Donovan's missed penalty kick, it emphasized what did and didn't go right for the Galaxy tonight. Donovan's through ball to Jose Villarreal was a thing of beauty, and Tally Hall gave up a penalty with his poorly timed tackle to prevent Villarreal from scoring. How Hall didn't get a card there is a matter of dispute, but Donovan could have ended all controversy by sticking the ball in the back of the net. Instead he stutter steps, and then softly puts the ball in Hall's arms when Hall guesses correctly that Donovan was going right. The initial effort was great, but then the finishing touch wasn't there.
LA gets a full week of rest, while much of MLS will be in action midweek. However they're rewarded with three matches in eight days, all on the road. It'll be a tough test, and they'll need Robbie Keane to return if they're going to make a true go of it. The kids are fun, but on night when things aren't going right, teams need a player who can create something from nothing. Often that's Donovan, but he's trying to shake off his own cobwebs.
Two biggest takeaways from tonight are the Galaxy's lack of width to stretch out teams playing them tight in the middle, and on that same note the relative disappointment Colin Clark has been. In looking for fixes, it's a player with his skill set that LA needs. Yet, he's not sharp enough to be called into the 18.