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LA Galaxy 1 Houston Dynamo 0: Steven Gerrard Steals the Show

LA Galaxy Steven Gerrard
CARSON, CA - JUNE 22: Steven Gerrard #8 of Los Angeles Galaxy takes a free kick during Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against Colorado Rapids at the StubHub Center on June 22, 2016 in Carson, California. The match ended in a 0-0 tie (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

The Set Up

Coming into the game the LA Galaxy were looking to make it their fourth win in a row in all competitions as they were matched up with Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo were on a decent run of form, having won two out of their last three games after a 0-0 game against Orlando City last week.

Robbie Keane was looking to make it 3 consecutive games with a goal.

The Dynamo were trying to dig themselves out of last place in the Western Conference.

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Here we go.

First Half

Steven Gerrard started off the game extremely strong for the Galaxy. He was covering lots of ground and looked like he had his young legs back.

The Galaxy couldn’t have asked for a better start when just seven minutes into the game David Horst was whistled for the handball in the box off of the Keane shot.

Robbie Keane, who is normally automatic from the spot pushed his shot wide of the post and the Dynamo escaped going down early.

Maybe Keane was distracted by a Pokemon?

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For the next 20 minutes the game was entrenched in a midfield battle with Ricardo Clark and Alex breaking up many of the Galaxy attacks.

The Galaxy nearly made the breakthrough in the 30th minute when Giovani dos Santos shifted the ball onto his right foot and crossed it. Gyasi Zardes climbed as high as he could for the header but couldn’t steer it down as his header went over the bar.

Just two minutes later the Galaxy nearly scored a spectacular team goal. On the counter attack, Gio found Zardes’ foot on the back-post, Zardes squared the ball to an onrushing Keane who slid for the ball but it was just beyond his toe.

In the 40th minute it was Zardes turn to be provider as he found Gio’s head on a cross, but his header bounced up into the grateful arms of Joe Willis in the Dynamo goal.

Bruce Arena’s face pretty much sums up the first half.

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Second Half

The opening 15 minutes of the second half neither team created much as they were again canceling each other out.

However, in the 60th minute, a slip by Galaxy defender Daniel Steres nearly cost them as Giles Barnes had a 1-on-1 with Brian Rowe, but the Galaxy goalkeeper came out on top. Barnes had a similar chance three minutes later from the same angle but his outside of the foot shot only found the side netting.

Rowe got Barnes back…

In the 65th minute, Gio floated a perfect ball back-post to Keane. Keane climbed over his defender and his deflected header fell to his feet, but it bounced just a bit higher than he wanted and his volley from close range flew over the bar.

The Galaxy finally found the breakthrough in the 67th minute. Baggio Husidic lofted a perfect through ball for Keane but Willis saved the 1-on-1. However, Gerrard was following up the play and the ball fell to him on top of the box and his low drive found the corner.

Keane almost made it 2-0 in the 76th minute when A J DeLaGarza slipped a ball through for Keane who went on to slot the ball past Willis into the net. However, Keane was deemed to be offside. Replays showed a very tight call that Keane ultimately disagreed with as he kicked up the turf in the direction of the referee.

Gerrard was pulled in the 80th minute after one of his better performances since coming to the Galaxy.

The Galaxy continued to try to put the game away as Zardes’ curling cross zipped past Gio’s head in the 83rd minute.

In stoppage time substitute Sebastian Lletget beat his defender in the box and tried to slide a pass into Keane who was standing right in front of the goal wide open. Lletget’s cross had too much pace on it as it went past Keane who could not react in time.

The game ended 1-0 deservedly so to the Galaxy.

Reaction

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On paper, the game looked a lot closer than it was. It was a bit of a throwback performance between these two rivals on the night.

Zardes agreed on the nature of the game, “It was a tough game. To be honest we could have been better, but you got to win ugly sometimes. I thought it was an ugly game and we won”.

The win pushed the Galaxy into sole possession of third place in the Western Conference temporarily. It also put the all time wins head to head versus the Dynamo at dead even at 9 wins apiece.

The Dynamo sit in last place in the Western Conference and are still winless on the road this season. Barnes continued to be optimistic, “Just keep on doing exactly what we’ve been doing and bury those chances”. Barnes spoke about getting points, “Take those chances when they come in, the points will come through.”

Man of the Match

Steven Gerrard was by far the best player on the pitch tonight. Quite frankly, Gerrard looked like the player that stomped the Liverpool midfield from 1998-2015. Gerrard was all over the place covering lots of ground. As exemplified by his goal when he beat the entire Dynamo midfield up the pitch to get the rebound and slot it into the net.

It was Gerrard’s 3rd goal of the season and it came on a night when neither team was clinical enough in the final third.

Looking Ahead: Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo have their sight set on a quarterfinal game in the U.S. Open Cup in five days against FC Dallas.

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Dynamo coach Wade Barrett spoke about it after the game, “We approach it with excitement and opportunity. It’s a quarterfinal in a big tournament. The guys have fought hard to get there. We’ve got a couple days to rest and recover and we’ll be ready to go. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

The Dymano must step up their form in front of the net if they are going to beat the top team in the MLS. The Dynamo have only scored once in their last three games.

Looking Ahead: LA Galaxy

The Galaxy continue to scrap together wins despite not playing their best soccer. Narrow wins are often the hallmark of championship teams. However, the Galaxy are hoping to win some of these games in more comfortable fashion, particularly at home where they a nearly unbeatable.

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The Galaxy will welcome back key players Ashley Cole and Nigel de Jong in the near future. Zardes mentioned, “We’re just trying to get more chemistry. Now that we’re back together … we still haven’t had a full, healthy team … but we’re still working on it.”

Gerrard went a bit further into detail, “If we keep that solid defensive base, we’ve got players on the team that can cause the opposition problems, who can assist goals and score goals. And that’s how you get success at the end of the season.”

The Galaxy have conceded the least amount of goals in the league this season. They have also just achieved their fourth consecutive shut out. Rowe is proving himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the MLS.

All things considered, the Galaxy are proving themselves as tough to beat and are building around that solid defensive base that Gerrard mentioned.

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Next Game

Houston Dymano vs FC Dallas, U.S. Open Cup. Wednesday July 20th, 5:15 p.m. BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders, U.S. Open Cup. Wednesday July 20th, 7:30 p.m. StubHub Center; Carson, California.

Keep it right here on The Stoppage Time, powered by Azteca Soccer, for more world football news. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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