sports 4 days ago

Galaxy pull off tie with Houston with little to spare

Los Angeles Times — Kevin Baxter Los Angeles Times

June 18--The stoppable object met the movable force Saturday at the StubHub Center. So it was fitting the Galaxy and Houston Dynamo played to a 2-2 tie.

Mauro Manolas and Alberth Elis scored for Houston while the Galaxy got scores from Emanuel Boateng and Romain Alessandrini, the second coming four minutes into stoppage time to earn the draw.

The Dynamo (7-6-3), the stoppable object, haven't won on the road since September. The Galaxy (5-5-4), the movable force, came in with a league-low one MLS win at home. Neither of those skids ended Saturday -- but neither did the Galaxy's unbeaten streak, which reached a Western Conference-best seven games, eight in all competitions.

For the Galaxy, rallying twice from deficits left the result feeling like more than a draw -- although they also admitted that wasn't enough.

"It's like a win," Alessandrini said. "But the point is not the same. We have to win now at home. We're good on the road. But we have to take points at home."

Added Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo: "We find ways to make things happen. I'm pleased that we got the point. I wanted three."

Playing at home for the first time in six weeks, the Galaxy were greeted by an announced crowd of 25,667 at a StubHub Center that has undergone significant improvements since they left, with the addition of a 20-by-54-foot video board above the south stands and new bleachers on the north berm. The renovations were necessitated by the relocation of the NFL's Chargers from San Diego to Carson for the next three seasons.

The Galaxy lineup also underwent substantial renovations for Saturday's game.

With defender Bradley Diallo tweaking a hamstring late last week, the Galaxy were missing eight starters to injury, suspension and international duty. Especially hard hit was the back line, where Arellano, a 19-year-old, made his MLS debut across from Nathan Smith, who was making his seventh career appearance.

That left the Galaxy, who dressed just 17 players Saturday, with a short roster for the first of six games scheduled over the next 17 days.

So it was no surprise that Houston struck first, with Manolas slipping between defenders Dave Romney and Hugo Arellano to boot in the rebound of a wicked left-footed shot from ageless defender DaMarcus Beasley.

The hard shot from outside the box stood up Galaxy keeper Clement Diop, who did a good job just to knock the ball down. But his teammates couldn't clean up the ricochet, leaving Manolas with an easy finish.

It was the fifth time in seven home games the Galaxy conceded first. They have led just once in those seven games, for a combined 75 minutes.

The Galaxy didn't wait long to equal things, though, with Boateng getting his first goal at home -- and his first MLS goal against a team not from Salt Lake -- on a breakaway in the 35th minute.

Alessandrini made the play, holding the ball up and drawing three Houston players to him before launching the speedy Boateng straight up the field with a beautiful pass. With Boateng well behind the Dynamo defense, keeper Tyler Deric came off his line to meet the Galaxy midfielder, who easily rounded the goalie at the top of the box, then left-footed the ball into an open net.

Alessandrini was rewarded with his team-leading seventh assist of the season.

"When he had the ball, he had his back turned to me. I didn't think he saw me ," Boateng said of Alessandrini. "I just kept yelling and hoping he'd hit it on time. And he just putted it where I needed it."

Elis, a second-half substitute, then snapped the tie after the Galaxy's Jose Villarreal coughed up the ball in the midfield, starting a counterattack going up the right side that the Honduran ended with a clean finish.

Houston was just seconds away from making that stand up for the win when Alessandrini, sliding in from the left, deflected in a Bradford Jamieson cross for his team-leading seventh goal.

"We played very good the last four or five games," Alessandrini said. "Today was a bit difficult because we had a lot of changes in the team. To come back at the end of the game, it's like a win. But we need to win at home."

Added Diop: "We came back at the last second so it was a good point tonight."

Asked if he was offside on the goal, Alessandrini paused, then smiled.

"I don't know. Maybe," he said. "But we don't care."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11

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