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Dynamo, Galaxy play to scoreless draw

Apr 9, 2007 - 2:34 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- The past two champions of MLS squared off and the result was predictable - a draw.

The Houston Dynamo opened defense of its 2006 title by playing to a 0-0 tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy, the league's champion in 2005.

The game marked the beginning of the unofficial countdown to David Beckham, the flamboyant English superstar who signed with Los Angeles in January and is expected to join the team in July.

The Galaxy, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time in the 11-year history of MLS, came out with a purpose and dominated possession early on.

Landon Donovan, universally regarded as the league's best player, had three shots in the first 24 minutes and six overall. He had his team's best opportunity in the 54th minute, breaking free before shooting wide right.

"In the first half, he was finding too much space and he converted an early turnover into a great scoring chance for them," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "He is a good player and I had to kind of tell the guys at the break to be better defenders and make him work harder for his chances. I thought we did a good job of that in the second half."

Brian Ching, the MVP of last year's playoffs for Houston, ripped a shot over the crossbar from the top of the box in the 48th minute.

"Dom came in here during halftime and told us that we weren't playing that bad, but that we just needed to go out there hard for the last 45 minutes," Ching said. "I think we did. We went out there and picked up our game in the second half, and I think we looked like the team that was going to score there for a while."

Los Angeles nearly was awarded a penalty kick in the 76th minute, when Houston defender Ryan Cochrane pulled down substitute Robbie Findley just outside the penalty box.

Cochrane was issued a red card and ejected, but the Galaxy did nothing with the opportunity as Findley's header off Donovan's free kick was well off the mark.

Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad made the best save of the game in the 59th minute, when he dove to get a hand on a shot by Nate Jaqua. Joe Cannon made four saves for the Galaxy.

"I think you are always worried about Houston's offensive firepower, no matter what," Cannon said. "They are always a dangerous team, but tonight, as a team, I think we were able to break them down at key times. This is our first game. Later on this year, when we get these same kinds of chances, we'll be able to put those away. It was a total team effort tonight, and that is the main thing."

The Dynamo players were satisfied with the result since the team played in Mexico in the CONCACAF Champions Cup on Thursday and had little recuperation time before Sunday's season opener.

"In the first half, we really didn't do much, but in the second half, we took control of the game," Onstad said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get anything in the net, but overall, it was a good result, considering it was a long week for us."

Donovan, meanwhile, said the Galaxy cannot afford to get caught up in the hype that undoubtedly will build as Beckham's arrival nears.

"Obviously, David is just one player, but there are a lot of people looking at it like, 'Oh, you've got Beckham, you should win the championship.' But it's not that simple," Donovan said. "We feel good enough, even with this group the way it is right now. We just played a pretty good game and maybe, justifiably, just should have won a game against the best team in the league.

"I think we're happy with where we are at right now."