Everything is beating up on the Galaxy these days, and it was the heat's turn Saturday afternoon. L.A. wilted in the Houston humidity and watched another early lead disappear to fall to the Dynamo, 2-1, in an MLS Cup rematch.
Edson Buddle ended a 2½-month drought with a fine goal in the 10th minute, but the Galaxy -- missing Juninho in addition to Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane -- offered little else aside from David Beckham set pieces as their winless streak reached seven games, longest in more than three years.
A bit of misfortune cost L.A. the first goal and Houston's set-piece supremacy paid off with the winner six minutes into the second half, and the Dynamo (4-3-4, 16 points) remained unbeaten in front of another sellout crowd at new BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Galaxy (3-8-2, 11 points), who will sit in the Western Conference cellar at least until their next league match June 17, have lost five of their last six games and are off to their worst 13-game start since 2006 and third-worst in club history. They've dropped more MLS games this season than in any of the past three full campaigns.
The heat -- 91 degrees with the index well into triple figures -- played the biggest role on the match, sapping both teams' energy, but more so the Galaxy, which isn't used to the climate. The game was virtually finished when Andre Hainault headed home Brad Davis' corner kick for a Dynamo advantage, and L.A., even with substitutions, was pressed just to keep up throughout the second half.
“Whoever scheduled these game in Houston at 3 o'clock in the afternoon doesn't know anything about the game,” Beckham told reporters afterward. “It's difficult both both teams, as much as they're used to playing in this heat, they're used to training in it. No one enjoys these games. ... It's not good for the fans, not good for the players.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena agreed.
“We should never be playing under these conditions,” he said. “The scheduling is poor. Teams playing on Wednesday [as the Galaxy did, losing to San Jose] shouldn't be traveling or playing teams that are rested on a Saturday in heat. We have to find a way to [deal with this] better. ...
“[When the league started] many years ago, we had these issues, playing early afternoon in the summer months, and it became obvious it was something we shouldn't be doing. ... We've tried to emphasize that. It's not understood yet, and, obviously, there are issues with television, but it's not fair to our teams under these circumstances. It's something that has to get corrected.”
The Galaxy came out strong, got the goal they needed, then watched everything slow down, at times to a crawl, just as expected.
Buddle struck from a superb sequence: three one-touch balls. Beckham started it at midfield, splitting four defenders to lead Chad Barrett into the box, and his low cross from the right was easily finished by Buddle, who had burst past Houston center back Bobby Boswell.
That's two quick goals in as many games -- Hector Jimenez provided a third-minute lead Wednesday against San Jose -- and they couldn't hold this one either.
Houston enjoyed clear aerial dominance, no surprise given six starters standing at least 6-foot-1 -- and that's without towering center back Geoff Cameron, who's with Donovan in the U.S. national camp -- and Brian Ching and Will Bruin quickly took command in their battles with Galaxy center backs A.J. DeLaGarza, who is just 5-9, and 6-3 rookie Bryan Gaul. They won three headers and Ching narrowly missed with a close-range volley in the first 18 minutes.
The Galaxy, with rookie Kenney Walker making his debut in Juninho's spot, couldn't compete in midfield, not in the heat, and Houston found lots of space to operate. That enabled the equalizing goal, in the 38th minute. Dunivant's clearing header from a free kick fell to Je-Vaughn Watson, who fed Ching on the right side of the box. He blasted the ball off the top-right corner of the goal frame, and it ricocheted off Mike Magee and rolled into the net.
Hainault's glancing header, after losing Barrett on a sprint to the near post, provided the 51st-minute lead, and L.A.'s response was limited to Beckham free kicks, two of them nicely parried by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“We knew they would be a dangerous team on set pieces, and we failed in that area, and it was the difference in the game ...,” Arena said. “Given the circumstances of the heat and the travel and two games in a short period of time, our guys physically gave a good effort. I just think it was a little demanding on them, and certainly the heat was a factor. It was a slow and sloppy game. ... The players are not able to play at a high pace under these conditions for a long period of time. It's that simple. No one is made to play in this heat for 90 minutes.”
L.A. might have had a case for a penalty kick, when Macoumba Kandji took down Magee on a stoppage-time corner kick, but they received one clear gift from referee Silviu Petrescu, who should have sent off Gaul for tripping Bruin, who had a clear path to the goal, in the 59th minute. A second yellow was warranted after Gaul took down Macoumba Kandji in midfield 15 minutes later, but Petrescu let him off easy again.
Nonetheless, Beckham, who excoriated Jair Marrufo after Wednesday's loss, was critical of Petrescu, who let a lot go all afternoon.
“I didn't think refereeing could get any worse than the last game, but today? I don't know,” Beckham said. “I shouldn't say too much because I'm going to end up getting myself in trouble. Standard's not good enough. Simple as that.”
WORTH NOTING: Walker, who played 45 minutes, has started all three MLS Reserve League games for L.A. Juninho has a calf contusion. ... Gaul was making his third start in the last six games. Top draft pick Tommy Meyer, who started five games and was on every 18-man game roster until last weekend's against Chivas, didn't make the roster for the third straight game, since Leonardo's return to active duty. Leonardo has yet to play for the first team this year. ... Robbie Keane started and played 62 minutes in Ireland's 1-0 victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina in Dublin.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston)
Houston Dynamo 2, Galaxy 1
LA -- Edson Buddle (Chad Barrett, David Beckham) 10
H -- own goal Mike Magee 38
H -- Andre Hainault (Brad Davis) 57
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Calen Carr (Colin Clark, 75), Adam Moffat, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis (Luiz Camargo, 84); Will Bruin, Brian Ching (Macoumba Kandji, 72). Unused subs: Tyler Deric, Warren Creavalle, Alex Dixon, Nathan Sturgis.
Galaxy: Brian Perk; Sean Franklin, Brian Gaul (David Junior Lopes, 84), A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Bryan Jordan, David Beckham, Kenney Walker (Michael Stephens, 46), Mike Magee; Chad Barrett (Pat Noonan, 71), Edson Buddle. Unused subs: Bill Gaudette, Leonardo, Kyle Nakazawa, Marcelo Sarvas.
Yellow cards: Stephens 46, Gaul 59, Watson 86, Magee 92+.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu. Att.: 22,039.
Records: Houston 4-3-4, 16 points; Galaxy 3-8-2, 11 points.