Preview: Galaxy travel to Houston for regular season finale

LA seek continued momentum heading into playoffs

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs LA GALAXY
ROBERTSON STADIUM, Houston, Texas
October 23, 2011
7 p.m. ET/4 pm PT (FOX Sports West; Galavisión; lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive)

By the time the final game of the 2011 regular season kicks off at Robertson Stadium, the Houston Dynamo will know what they must do against the LA Galaxy. The Dynamo can finish anywhere from second in the Eastern Conference to ninth place overall, and they will know what result they must get to play host to a wild card game – or avoid it entirely. The Galaxy are aiming for the most points ever tallied by a club in a single MLS season, having won the Supporters’ Shield and sitting on 67 points with one game remaining, one short of the league record.

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REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: Jasen Anno. MLS Career: 71 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 21

INJURY REPORT

  • HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Cam Weaver (R hip)
  • LA GALAXY – OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee surgery); DF Bryan Jordan (L middle finger tendon rupture); FW Robbie Keane (L adductor strain); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (back spasms); DF Gregg Berhalter (R foot sprain); FW Landon Donovan (R quadriceps strain); DF Sean Franklin (R knee inflammation); GK Donovan Ricketts (R quad tightness)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Dynamo 4 wins, 14 goals … Galaxy 6 wins, 16 goals … Ties 4
  • AT HOUSTON (7 meetings): Dynamo 2 wins, 6 goals … Galaxy 3 wins, 6 goals … Ties 2
  • When the teams first met this season, May 25 at The Home Depot Center, Landon Donovan scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot in a Galaxy victory. WATCH
  • The victory extended the Galaxy’s unbeaten streak against Houston to five games in league play and six in all competitions. The Dynamo last won vs. LA on Oct.18, 2008, a 3-0 win.
  • The Dynamo haven’t defeated the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center since 2007, a 3-1 victory. The Galaxy have won three of the four league and MLS Cup meetings there since, including a 2-0 win in extra time in the 2009 Conference Championship.
  • Coaches' records: Bruce Arena vs. HOU: P8 W5 L2 D1 … Dominic Kinnear v LA: P22 W8 L9 D5

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 5/25: LA 1, HOU 0 (Donovan 46+ pen) [Recap | Highlights]
  • The game's lone goal came in first-half stoppage time. Houston midfielder Lovel Palmer stopped a shot by Chris Birchall with his arm, and referee Chris Penso awarded a penalty kick. Landon Donovan stepped up and easily converted the spot kick past Tally Hall for his league-leading eighth goal of the season. WATCH
  • It was the first shot on goal for the Galaxy in the match, who ended with two on the night. Donovan Ricketts was called upon to make just one save in the LA goal.
  • LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Donovan Ricketts - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Chris Birchall (Jovan Kirovski 92+), Juninho, Michael Stephens - Landon Donovan - Juan Pablo Angel (Mike Magee 61), Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez 74).
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe (Mike Chabala 46) - Colin Clark, Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis (Je-Vaughn Watson 61) - Will Bruin, Koke (Cam Weaver 74).

LA GALAXY

The Galaxy have 67 points from 33 games on the season, leading the Western Conference and the MLS overall table.

LAST MATCH

  • The LA Galaxy once again held sway over their neighbors at The Home Depot Center, defeating Chivas USA on Sunday evening in the second SuperClásico of the season.
  • READ: SuperClasico, from the fans' eyes
  • The game's lone goal came in the 53rd minute. Chad Barrett sent a header toward the right side of the penalty area where Adam Cristman took control and floated a ball back across the box, where Barrett raced onto the return pass and easily headed home from inside the six. WATCH
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made four changes to the team that fell 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Josh Saunders came back in between the posts in place of Donovan Ricketts, Gregg Berhalter started in the back four for Frankie Hejduk, Mike Magee came into the midfield for Michael Stephens, and Adam Cristman started up top in place of Miguel Lopez.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant - Paolo Cardozo, Juninho (Michael Stephens 61), David Beckham, Mike Magee - Adam Cristman (Chris Birchall 73), Chad Barrett (Jovan Kirovski 86).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Galaxy finish the season as the third team in MLS history to go undefeated for the season on their home ground, along with Real Salt Lake last year (11-0-4) and the San Jose Earthquakes in 2005 (9-0-7).
  • “It’s nice,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “I don’t really pay attention to those kinds of things. It’s certainly important. It was obviously the most important factor probably in winning the Supporters’ Shield. If you generate that many points at home and get a fair amount on the road, it’s a simple formula that adds up to being on top in the end.”
  • Over all competitions, the Galaxy are 16-0-5 in home games at The Home Depot Center this season, and have allowed just 10 goals in all in home contests.
  • The Galaxy now have an 18-game undefeated streak in league games at home dating to the end of last season, the third-longest in MLS history, behind 29 games for Real Salt Lake (2009-11) and 22 for the Columbus Crew (2008-09).
  • The Galaxy have 67 points on the season, the second-most in MLS history. The 1998 Galaxy won 24 games (by shootout) in amassing 68 points in a 32-game season.
  • “It always means something against Chivas,” striker Chad Barrett said. “It’s a big thing. It’s a big thing to them, so we came in here, we weren’t lackadaisical. There’s still a record we could break with the points. There were tons of things to play for.”
  • The Galaxy defeated their neighbors at The Home Depot Center for the sixth consecutive regular-season game, and in seven league games since the 2009 season, they’ve allowed just one goal to Chivas USA.
  • “We’ve made [The Home Depot Center] our fortress and against Chivas, it means everything,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We pride ourselves on that Clasico game and showing that this is our stadium.”
  • READ: Galaxy show HDC a true fortress with win vs. Chivas
  • Chad Barrett made his third consecutive start in attack in league games and scored his third goal in the last four, after going three months between hitting the back of the net.
  • “I think the goal was big for him,” said Arena. “He had a couple of chances in the first half. The play that just about opened the game and a couple of others but good to see him come back determined in the second half of the game and get that goal. It was obviously a big goal and it’s going to be a boost for his confidence.”
  • Veteran defender Gregg Berhalter announced his retirement following the season in the days leading up to the game, and he made his first 90-minute performance since Aug. 20 while also wearing the captain’s armband.
  • READ: A True Leader
  • “He filled a void that we had, but I still wasn’t quite sure if he would embrace it the way he has,” Arena said. “He’s committed to be good and he worked hard every day. I think Gregg is a lot different than the typical American player. I think he’s fought for everything he’s gotten in the game. He went over to Europe at a young age and probably got beat up a little bit. Various clubs he’s been in he’s been in cut-throat environments. He’s been trained to be professional every day and compete every day.”
  • Team awards for Defender of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and MVP were also announced, along with the Golden Boot winner.
  • READ: Team Award Winners Announced
  • On Thursday, the Galaxy qualified for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-0 win against Motagua of Honduras in Tegucigalpa. Juninho scored the game’s lone goal from a free kick in the 29th minute.
  • Here’s the Galaxy team: Josh Saunders; Frankie Hejduk, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Paolo Cardozo (Michael Stephens 80), David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee; Miguel Lopez (Landon Donovan 69), Chad Barrett (Chris Birchall 64).

WATCH: Dynamo vs Galaxy Match Preview

 


HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo extended their unbeaten run to five games, defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0 on Friday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. The Dynamo have 46 points from 33 games on the season, in fourth place in the Eastern Conference to start the week.

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo took the lead in the 36th minute. Winning a free kick outside the left corner of the penalty area, Brad Davis swung in his service toward the near post and defender Andre Hainault met it with a glancing header, nodding it past Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
  • Houston doubled their lead in the 59th minute in spectacular fashion when Danny Cruz drove a left-footed blast from 30 yards out into the top corner of the goal.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Robertson Stadium. Danny Cruz came into the midfield for Colin Clark, and Calen Carr started up top in place of Brian Ching.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-1-3-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Adam Moffat - Danny Cruz, Luiz Camargo (Je-Vaughn Watson 77), Brad Davis (Colin Clark 74) - Calen Carr (Will Bruin 81), Carlo Costly.

TEAM NEWS

  • The win in Portland did not clinch a playoff spot for the Dynamo, but after Sporting KC’s win against New York, the Columbus win in New England and Chicago’s last-gasp victory against D.C. United, Houston claimed their place among the final 10.
  • “It feels great now that we’re into the playoffs, but it’s different,” Brad Davis said. “We’ll have to give everything we’ve got these next few weeks. ... It’s great we got in the playoffs, but now the next step is to win the MLS Cup, and if we play the way we did Friday, I think we can do some good things in the postseason.”
  • The Dynamo could enter the MLS Cup Playoffs anywhere from the top seed in the Eastern Conference and holding home-field advantage throughout the postseason, to 10th place overall and playing on the road in a midweek wild card game.
  • “We've definitely felt the playoff race. We've known for long that we need results to get in to the playoffs, so the guys have stepped up again,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “Hats off to the boys. I can't say anything else other than they've stepped up, they've done their job and put us in a great spot.”
  • The Dynamo have recorded back-to-back shutouts on the road for the first time since posting three successive clean sheets away from Robertson Stadium midway through the 2008 season.
  • "It's a huge result for us, hats off to the team – the defenders especially,” said Hall. “I felt like Portland put a lot of service into the box and whipped in good balls and I thought our team fought very well to keep good position.”
  • The back-to-back road wins, first against FC Dallas then in Portland, are the first since two straight away from home in June 2009.
  • “Now we’re not looking at ourselves and saying, ‘Oh, we’re a road team now,’” defender André Hainault said. “We’re taking it one at a time. We’ll need to build on this, because we’re on a high now after winning in a tough atmosphere against a good team.”
  • After missing seven games to injury, Danny Cruz made his fifth consecutive appearance and his second start in that time. He scored his second goal of the year, the first coming on July 9.
  • “It was a great goal tucked inside, I don't know how far out it was, but it was perfect and I'm happy for Danny it's definitely one of the good goals we've had this year,” said Kinnear.