Despite applying constant pressure in the second half that produced several quality scoring chances, the Galaxy had to settle for a 1-1 tie with the Houston Dynamo in front of 19,087 on Saturday night at StubHub Center.
“I didn't like a whole lot,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. “We lost too many battles. I thought they played harder for 90 minutes than we did. We could've won going away if we were sharper.”
It didn't take the Galaxy (1-0-2) long to get the home fans roaring.
After Houston lost the ball just across midfield,
Jose Villarreal led a counterattack and fed a through ball to Robbie Keane, who broke in alone and deflected a shot into the net off goalkeeper Tyler Deric in the third minute.
Houston (1-1-1) answered on a set piece eight minutes later when David Horst headed a corner kick by Oscar Garcia toward goal, the Galaxy failed to clear and Nathan Sturgis sneaked in unguarded and scored the equalizer from 10 yards.
“We had a breakdown where Robbie Rogers lost his man, and to concede a goal right after getting one ourselves is bad,” Arena said.
Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo dove to his right to save a turnaround shot by Ricardo Clark midway through the first half.
Two minutes later, Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes, who scored his team's first goal in last Sunday's 2-2 tie at Portland, headed a pass just wide of the post.
Keane had a chance to give the Galaxy the lead in the 47th minute when he was left open on a centering pass from Stefan Ishizaki, but his shot sailed well over the net.
Galaxy newcomer Mika Vayrynen seemed to spark the offense shortly after entering in the 68th minute, redirecting a feed from Villarreal on net that forced a diving save by Deric.
Houston's Owen Coyle was coaching his first game against the Galaxy, which ended a losing streak against the Dynamo at four games and extended its home unbeaten streak to 22 games. The team's last loss at StubHub Center was to Real Salt Lake in the season opener last season.
The game was chippy from the outset and five yellow cards were issued, three on Houston.
In the 90th minute, Alan Gordon collided with Deric in midair deep in the box, but the play was ruled offside. Gordon nearly scored on a corner kick in stoppage time but again the play was ruled offside.
“The back line didn't pass very well and that carried over to the midfield and forwards as well,” Arena said. “We weren't sharp or fit enough tonight, especially in the first half, but their goalie did a good job and they got a point, which is what they wanted to do playing on the road.”