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Ejection, poor defense contribute to first loss
Monday, 12 April 2010
In a game where the first 5,000 fans received flashlights as part of a “Lights Out” promotion, the Dynamo defense ended up playing without the lights on. The Galaxy took advantage of critical defensive mistakes to win 2-0. The game was not for the faint of heart as referee Baldomero Toledo left many physical fouls unpunished leading to extremely aggressive and physical play.

Dynamo v. Galaxy

The beginning of the game, in all honesty, resembled a MMA fight more than a soccer match. Neither team looked especially threatening in the opening stages but a number of strong challenges threatened to turn the match into a slugfest. Both teams traded elbows and strong tackles under Toledo’s eye but he felt uncompelled to show any cards until the 24th minute. After playing a LA advantage, Andrew Hainault was issued the game’s first yellow card and it quickly got worse for Houston.

After thwarting the Galaxy for the first quarter of the game, Eddie Robinson, back from his hamstring injury, and Mike Chabala partnered for some comical defending to assist in LA’s first goal. A relatively harmless long ball was sent into Houston’s half which both Robinson and Chabala seemed to have covered. However after what seemed like an eternity, neither claimed the ball until eventually Chabala sliced the clearance poorly under pressure from the Galaxy. The ball found its way to Edson Buddle who despite being pushed wide, managed to beat GK Pat Onstad at the near post from an extremely acute angle.

The score was 1-0.

First ejection of the season
The tackles kept coming from both teams and players started to question what was and was not called. Things came to a head for the Dynamo in the 44th minute when a frustrated Luis Angel Landin was sent off for his leg swipe on Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez who was shepherding the ball out of play.

LA didn’t take long to take advantage of their man advantage. No more than a minute later, another Galaxy long ball found its way into the Dynamo half of the field. This time, it was defender Bobby Boswell who hesitated to assist on the Galaxy’s second goal. After failing to clear the ball after seeming to have a number of chances to do so, Mike McGee got behind the Houston defender and managed a strong shot on goal which Onstad did well to save. The rebound would fall to Sean Franklin who found a wide open Buddle in the box allowing the striker to score his second goal of the game.

With a two goal and one man advantage, the game was essentially over by halftime.

Offensive failures
Midfielder Corey Ashe was brought in to start the second half in an effort to find some offense; the Men in Orange weren’t able to do so. At times, the home team was able to string together a few passes but only because LA seemed content to let them knock the ball around in the middle of the field.

Mullan's close call

Much like previous games, when the Dynamo attempted to play a ball into the attacking third, the move rarely came off. The only half chance created was when Ashe nailed a cross across the face of goal which an onrushing Brian Mullan came close to getting a toe on but could not.

When the final whistle blew, the Dynamo hadn’t managed a single shot on goal.

The positives
New signing Lovel Palmer had a very promising outing as he replaced the injured Richard Mulrooney in the 28th minute. The Jamaican was extremely composed in midfield and rarely sent a pass astray. Midfielder Danny Cruz also brought a much needed charge of energy to the game with his appearance in the 70th minute.

An offense that has struggled to establish itself this season seemed to regress. While a big reason for that can be attributed to Landin’s sending off; the offense wasn’t looking particularly inspired before the ejection either. In addition, it wasn’t the offense which virtually handed LA’s two goals on a silver platter.

Looking ahead
Poor games happen from time to time and the Dynamo players and staff will be the first to admit that the game against LA was a poor one. If history is any indicator, don’t expect to see a repeat performance next week. The Dynamo will be looking to take out their frustrations against Chivas USA next Saturday at 3 p.m.