Houston not much of a test for L.A.

Buddle, Franklin and injury returns are bright spots for Galaxy

Gallery_LA_vs_HOU_5

Photo Credit: 
Bob Levey

The Houston Dynamo
posed an early-season test for the Galaxy as the two Western Conference
powers met for a tilt at Robertson Stadium.

If this was a test,
then someone provided the Galaxy with the answers. Houston was no match
for Los Angeles as the visitors silenced the hosts with a pair of
first-half strikes by Edson Buddle in the Galaxy’s 2-0 victory.

Watch the full match highlights.

The Dynamo had some bite and were active, but overall the game was all Galaxy.

Just how were the defending Western champs able to dismantle Houston?

Elegant Edson:
Once again, Buddle was the focal point of the attack. If the Galaxy are
preparing for life without Landon Donovan, then Buddle is showing he is
ready to shoulder the offensive load. Buddle’s finishes were each
splendid in their own way.

Offense was a question mark
entering the season, and the need for a second scorer was obvious.
Donovan will be gone come mid-May as World Cup duty looms for the
Galaxy skipper, but Buddle seems to be answering the call loud and
clear.

The Landín Factor: Brian Ching typically
gives Galaxy defenders reason to worry but on Saturday, the club didn't
need to fear the U.S. international. Ching hurt his hamstring against
Real Salt Lake and Luis Ángel Landín started in his place. The Mexican
designated player did nothing to make anyone forget about Ching.
Instead he chopped down LA defender Omar Gonzalez from behind and was
sent off.

Landín wasn't much of a factor before the red card and
he left Houston in a hole. Buddle scored moments after the sending-off
and the match was essentially over.

Too Tight? Not Quite: Another
non-factor was Houston’s tight field. Robertson Stadium is about five
yards narrower than the Home Depot Center and the dimensions concerned
the Galaxy so much that the club moved in the lines on their training
field to simulate the size. Turns out the tight field wasn't tight
enough to constrict the Galaxy’s attack.

Franklin Factor:
Sean Franklin moved into the midfield at the end of the Galaxy’s 2-0
win over Chivas USA. Earlier that game, he sent a pinpoint cross to
Buddle, who buried the ball into the back of the net. On Saturday, he
started the game at right midfield, with second-year man A.J. DeLaGarza
slotted at right back. Franklin was just as strong in the midfield as
he has been at right back. His versatility gives the team another
weapon, as long as DeLaGarza continues developing.

Injured Returns:
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena may not have all of his players at his
disposal quite yet, but two players made their returns in Houston. Alan
Gordon and Jovan Kirovski had been training with the team at full speed
but didn't dress until Saturday’s match. Both two players made
late-game appearances against the Dynamo.

Neither contributed
much to the game, which was already well in hand by the time both
stepped onto the field as substitutes. But having two healthy bodies
back on the bench will be a welcome sight for the coaching staff. The
two players could be in the mix to start against Real Salt Lake next
weekend.