HOUSTON— On the stat sheet, the LA Galaxy dominated the Houston Dynamo. Except in the one column—goals scored.
They led in shots, possession and their passing was crisper than the team that they defeated twice in the MLS Cup, but it was a defensive miscue that ultimately proved to be their undoing.
The fateful moment occurred in the 61st minute when right back Dan Gargan fired a throw-in to goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. As Penedo came off his line to play the throw-in, the Panamanian was intercepted by Houston’s Mark Sherrod who scooped up the ball and quickly found Dynamo attacker Giles Barnes. With Penedo way off his line, Barnes was able to curl in a right-footed shot that sailed into the empty net.
The play against the Dynamo was the latest defensive breakdown to cost the Galaxy points after miscues cost the Galaxy points against Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers.
Following the match, Penedo offered an explanation for what happened on the sequence.
“I was trying to communicate with my teammate to hold the ball because I was getting a cramp which I got from a previous play that I slid out into the corner,” said Penedo. “To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting the ball, but that is no excuse and I work hard to try and fix those types of plays but it is sad to lose a game like that.”
Fellow defender Kofi Opare also offered an explanation for the play, but did not shrink in admitting that the Galaxy’s defense had cost the team points on the road.
“Defensively, we were a little slow to react on that play and help Jaime out,” said Opare. “It is very frustrating to give up goals like that especially when as a unit defensively we were able to hold our own, so giving up a goal like that is disappointing.”
Despite the defensive miscue, the Galaxy had numerous opportunities to find the back of the net including a chance from Samuel just seconds into the match that was fired wide and an A.J. DeLaGarza attempt from inside the penalty area that was headed off the line by Houston’s David Horst.
But after controlling the run of play for yet another match, LA’s numerous attempts on frame offered little solace for the club that now finds themselves in last place in the Western Conference.
“We just didn’t finish; it’s hard to believe they even got a goal tonight. They weren’t going to get a goal and we gave them a chance and to their credit they finished it,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We’re very disappointed to walk out of here without at least a point on a night where maybe we’re not great, but the other team is not dangerous and we have got to find a way to get a goal.”
Missed chances aside, if LA cannot shore up their defensive errors, then their always candid captain offers a bleak picture of what awaits the Galaxy in 2014.
"We just can’t make mistakes, the mistakes we’ve made are ones that can’t be made, and it’s fairly simple,” said Keane. “If you keep making mistakes like that, you can forget about even making the playoffs."
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com