The Houston Dynamo entered Friday night’s contest against the LA Galaxy unbeaten and that unfortunately came to an end. This was a big test for the Dynamo as they’ve had a relatively light schedule thus far, but despite a well fought effort, it was Diego Polenta’s dagger that ended the back and forth match at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA.
Houston came out in the opening minute with a lot of energy. Tommy McNamara was able to pick out Alberth Elis who fired a shot at goal. LA goalkeeper David Bingham made a terrific reaction save, but Elis was ruled offside and the goal, had it gone in, wouldn’t have counted.
With both sides jostling for momentum, Houston’s early pressure simmered to a more patient build up style. The Galaxy also sat a little deeper, but were able to win balls in the midfield to create their offense. In the 16th minute, LA would be dealt a big blow with Romain Alessandrini being forced to come off due to injury.
In the 19th minute, Joe Willis came up with a spectacular play to keep the home Galaxy side off the score line. Willis made the decision to come off his line and chested the ball to keep it safe before clearing it. The Galaxy cried for a handball by Willis who was outside the 18 yard box, but the center official waved off their pleas.
The game began to open up following the injury to Alessandrini. Both sides started to get behind the other’s defensive line more and more often. Houston’s issue was decision making with the right pass just not being there or the ball getting stuck under players’ feet. For LA, they were denied by Willis or Struna – and on at least one occasion the offside flag.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy would get the opening goal coming from the penalty spot. A.J. DeLaGarza had struggled against his former club, and he pulled Zlatan down. Ibra stepped up and beat Joe Willis even though Willis was able to get a hand to the ball.
Houston tried to equalize in the 36th minute with a very nice sequence. A give and go play between Tomás Martínez and Mauro Manotas nearly found Elis back post to level things up, but the pass was just too far ahead of Elis for him to make contact.
After the halftime whistle, LA would go into the locker room with the lead. The Dynamo have had some close chances to equalize, but they just haven’t connected as well in the final third.
The Dynamo would tie the game 8 minutes into the second half. Alberth Elis drew a foul near the side line and Tomás Martínez played it quickly to Elis who would get fouled in the box where the center official pointed to the penalty spot. After some debate about whether it was a penalty or not, the original call stood and Elis beat Bingham with a well placed effort.
Houston nearly went up in the 58th minute. A ball too far in front of Tommy McNamara was poorly cleared by LA and McNamara found himself in a 2v2 with Mauro Manotas. Tommy Mac hesitated a little before laying it off to Tomás Martínez whose right footed shot went over the top.
Following the equalizer, each side had some quality opportunities to take the lead as the game opened up even more. Houston again made good plays, but could not connect when it counted to steal the lead on the road. The Dynamo defense did well to limit the Galaxy’s chances, but the midfield continued to give the home side opportunities to test the back line.
Alberth Elis came close to getting Houston a goal late in the game during the 80th minute. He got free and into the box with his defender falling over. Even with a streaking Mauro Manotas, Elis elected to fire his shot on Bingham, but the effort went off the side netting.
LA would take the lead following a corner kick. Jonathan dos Santos played a ball into the box and Diego Polenta was able to beat his man, A.J. DeLaGarza, and get the home side up late.
Despite a lot of chances for both sides the game had two penalties and just one goal scored during a set piece opportunity which was Polenta’s game winner. It wasn’t a bad effort by the Dynamo on the road in a difficult place to play, but conceding a game winner beyond the 80th minute was a theme we hoped we left in 2018.
Next up for the Dynamo is Columbus Crew SC back in Houston at 7:30 PM CT.
31’ LAG: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (penalty kick)
58’ HOU: Alberth Elis (penalty kick)
88’ LAG: Diego Polenta (assisted by Jonathan dos Santos)
20’ HOU: A.J. DeLaGarza (yellow card)
47’ HOU: Matías Vera (yellow card)
85’ HOU: Alberth Elis (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Joe Willis; Adam Lundqvist, Maynor Figueroa, Kiki Struna, A.J. DeLaGarza; Oscar Boniek García (85’ Marlon Hairston), Matías Vera, Tomás Martínez (79’ Juan David Cabezas); Tommy McNamara (70’ Memo Rodríguez), Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis
LA Galaxy (4-2-3-1): David Bingham; Jørgen Skjelvik, Diego Polenta, Daniel Steres, Julian Araujo; Joe Corona (87’ Servando Carrasco), Jonathan dos Santos; Uriel Antuna, Sebastian Lletget, Romain Alessandrini (16’ Emmanuel Boateng, 90’+1’ Giancarlo González); Zlatan Ibrahimovic