Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was one of two key players who missed Thursday’s game for the LA Galaxy. Photo courtesy of LA Galaxy.
By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
A late Cristian Pavon penalty allowed the Los Angeles Galaxy to salvage a 1-1 draw in Group F play while knocking the Houston Dynamo out of the MLS is Back tournament in dramatic fashion on Thursday evening, but the tie wasn’t enough to keep the Galaxy from advancing.
The Galaxy needed a three-goal win to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.
The Dynamo needed a victory to advance. They led early in the first half thanks to a Darwin Quintero free kick in the 17th minute that somehow found a space through the Galaxy wall and went into the back of the net from 25 yards out, leaving Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham planted into the ground.
Houston was on the brink of advancing until late drama unfolded and a penalty was conceded in favor of the Galaxy in the 89th minute. Houston’s Maynor Figueroa was whistled for a foul in his own box off a corner kick, allowing Pavon to step up and equalize from the spot by sending Dynamo goalkeeper Marko Maric the wrong way.
The Pavon penalty kick eliminated Houston and allowed New York City FC to move on in the tournament. The Galaxy needed a three-goal win to advance into the knockout stages, so with this result they are also eliminated from the tournament.
The Galaxy found themselves struggling to create chances in the final third once again, needing to rely on a penalty to get on the score sheet. Their issues extend beyond the absences of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Jonathan Dos Santos.
Both Houston and the Galaxy are now eliminated from the MLS is Back tournament and are headed home. The group stage matches counted towards the regular season, so any points from the group stage also went towards the regular season total. Houston managed two ties and a loss, giving them two points on their way back home. The Dynamo currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference after the tournament results with three points after five regular season games.