Sacha Klejstan scored a winner from the penalty spot for the second consecutive game and the LA Galaxy took another big step toward the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 3-0 victory over Houston Dynamo FC at PNC Stadium on Wednesday evening.
After his dramatic late winner against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Kljestan was spot on once more for the Galaxy to break the deadlock in the 39th minute. A Zarek Valentin own goal and Kevin Cabral finish either side of halftime then made the three points safe and ensured LA will remain in the Western Conference playoff places by the end of Week 31. It also gave Greg Vanney his 100th regular-season victory as a head coach in Major League Soccer.
An already eliminated Houston side gave the visitors plenty to worry about in the early stages on Wednesday, though. On several occasions, the in-form Darwin Quintero threatened to break the deadlock, forcing Jonathan Bond into a smart save with a sneaky free kick and then twice feeding Maxi Urruti, who might have done better with the opportunities.
The Galaxy had early chances of their own. Efrain Alvarez clattered the outside of the post in the first minute with a shot from distance and then fed Javier" Chicharito" Hernandez for a well-struck volley that, fortunately for the Dynamo, was straight at goalkeeper Michael Nelson.
The opening goal could have gone either way, but crucially it went to the Galaxy. Veteran defender Maynor Figueroa over-committed with a challenge in the box as both he and Cabral tried to reach a low cross. After the official pointed to the spot, Kljestan made no mistake.
Within just a few minutes either side of the interval, the game was effectively settled. Again the Dynamo contributed to their own downfall on the second goal as Valentin, facing his own goal, stretched to intercept a low cross from the end line from Alvarez but only succeeded in turning it into his own net.
The Dynamo needed a big response after the halftime break but instead they conceded a third goal less than two minutes into the second half. Houston's defense was carved wide open by a Hernandez pass to Cabral streaking free down the left. The French forward sidestepped a rash challenge from a covering defender and beat Nelson to his near post to bag the third goal and all three points.
- 39' — LA — Sacha Kljestan (PK)
- 45+1' — LA — Zarek Valentin (OG)
- 47' — LA — Kevin Cabral