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Landon Donovan's goal is all Galaxy needs

Playing without David Beckham, Galaxy defeats the Houston Dynamo, 1-0.

May 25, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, second from right, celebrates with teammates after scoring on a penalty kick in the first half of the Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.
Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, second from right, celebrates with teammates… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

David Beckham wasn't there.

The Galaxy was without its star midfielder Wednesday night for the third time this season. He was in (old) England. He'll rejoin his teammates in New England this weekend when they face the Revolution. There's a historical pun in there somewhere.

But while Beckham stayed in his native land, where Tuesday he played a testimonial match with former teammate Gary Neville, the Galaxy posted a 1-0 win against the Houston Dynamo before 14,458 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The Galaxy (7-2-5) earned its season-high third straight win. It hasn't lost in its last 11 games and sits atop the Western Conference with 26 points.

Houston (3-4-5) is winless in its last five games, hasn't beaten L.A. since 2008 and hasn't beaten it at the Home Depot Center since 2007.

And Beckham, whom Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena excused from Wednesday's game, missed it all. But the Galaxy's other big-name star, Landon Donovan, didn't, and in his final home game before the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, for which he'll soon join the U.S. national team, Donovan scored the only goal.

His league-leading eighth score of the season came in the 46th minute of the first half on a penalty kick after a Dynamo hand ball in the penalty area.

"When I'm aggressive and being assertive and being dangerous in front of the goal, it's good," Donovan said. "My confidence is high."

That was the lone shot on goal in the first half, perhaps a sign of sluggishness for two teams that both played over the weekend.

In the second half, the Galaxy missed a few key chances to widen its lead.

Forward Juan Pablo Angel missed a shot over the bar in the 56th minute, and his header went high nearly two minutes later.

In the 85th minute, Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall beat three defenders down the field but his shot sailed wide.

The Galaxy had 17 shots but just three on goal.

The Dynamo had seven shots and just one on goal.

"Our backline played really well," Arena said of the Galaxy's defense.

Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts posted his fifth shutout this season.

The game was also the 200th of Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant's MLS career. "Kind up crept up on me," said the only Galaxy player to play every minute of every game so far this season. "Must be doing something right."

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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