CARSON, Calif. - Andrew Driver scored in the 56th minute to lift the Houston Dynamo to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night.
Houston goalie Tally Hall stopped Landon Donovan's penalty kick in the 25th minute to help the Dynamo (5-2-2) win a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals — both won by Los Angeles. Houston also moved into a tie atop the Eastern Conference with Sporting Kansas City, New York and Montreal.
"Defending was good, we took our chance very well and still created other chances," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Obviously, L.A. is going to push guys forward and then test you, and they did that. We bended a little bit but didn't break, but it was nice to see."
It was the second time this season Donovan failed to convert a penalty kick for the Galaxy (4-2-2), who are six points behind West-leading FC Dallas.
Donovan's attempt came after Jose Villarreal was knocked down by Hall as he sprinted into the Dynamo box. Donovan also missed from the penalty spot in Los Angeles' April 13 loss at FC Dallas, and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said it was time to find a new shooter for spot kicks.
"I'm not doing the job, so someone else is going to have to do it," said Donovan, who had made 28 of 31 regular-season penalty kicks before this year. "Certainly goals change games, and I could have made a difference and changed the game. ... Maybe I overthought it a little bit. I've taken a lot of penalties in this league, goalies know sort of my rhythm, how I take them, and it's getting harder and harder, and maybe I got to change something up."
Houston was the better team nearly from the start, almost scoring on Bobby Boswell's header that Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini parried in the 15th minute and Giles Barnes' shot was blocked by Omar Gonzalez in the 36th.
Driver's goal followed a long ball from Boswell for Barnes, who cut the ball back through the Galaxy box. Driver, sprinting from the top of box, first-timed the feed inside the left post.
"I remember thinking I was a bit behind the play," Driver said. "Putting the ball over the top, that was our game, to get our strikers in behind the centre (backs), and from there it was just a gamble to catch up to the play, and the rest was history."