CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-1 Friday night in a tough Western Conference matchup at Dignity Health Sports Park. A late header from Galaxy defender Diego Polenta sealed the victory.
Both teams entered the match on four-game winning streaks. The Galaxy (6-1-0, 18 points) handed the Dynamo (4-1-1, 13 points) their first loss of the season and jumped to second place in the West.
The Galaxy’s equalizer came in the 88th minute, after much of the crowd had resigned themselves to the idea of the game ending in a draw. Jonathan Dos Santos took a corner kick and Polenta buried it into the back of the net. Polenta had been working his way back into match fitness after joining the Galaxy from Uruguay’s Club Nacional de Football, and this goal made a statement.
The Galaxy’s first goal came by penalty kick in the 31st minute, after former LA Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza pulled down Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the box. Despite Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis getting a hand on his shot, Ibrahimovic slotted the penalty kick in the back of the net.
Ibrahimovic and DeLaGarza exchanged words throughout the evening as the Galaxy star tried to knock a seasoned defender off his game.
Early in the second half, Houston found an answer in a play that was questioned by Galaxy players on the field and staff on the sideline. Galaxy defender Jorgen Skjelvik took down Dynamo forward Alberth Elis, but it was unclear whether or not the foul occurred inside or outside the box. After video review, referee Jair Marrufo awarded the penalty to Houston. Elis put it away. The score was tied at 1-1.
The majority of the Galaxy’s lineup remained consistent, coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s preferred starting XI that he’s used for most of the games so far this season. The one change was Julian Araujo at right back in place of an injured Rolf Feltscher. It was Araujo’s first MLS start.
But Schelotto was not able to stick to his initial game plan for long because midfielder Romain Alessandrini left the match in just the 16th minute with a knee injury. Emmanuel Boateng took his place and provided a spark down the right side the remainder of the evening.
The flow of play was quick and clean for both sides throughout the match. The sides plit possession and both strung together clean passes that led to dangerous chances — only, the Galaxy finished more of those.
The Galaxy’s next match is Wednesday in Minnesota at 8 p.m. PT and they’ll look to extend their winning streak to six matches.