BLACK & GOLD ENDGAME
LAFC 1-3 Houston Dynamo
May 1, 2021
LAFC remained undefeated in 2021, playing to a 1-1 tie with the Houston Dynamo in the first road match of the season at BBVA Stadium.
Corey Baird scored his second goal of 2021 in the second half to give the Black & Gold a short-lived lead for about two minutes before Tyler Pasher evened the game with a goal.
LAFC head coach Bob Bradley and his players expressed frustration after the 1-1 tie with Houston, as the team was not able to find a steady rhythm or attacking cadence for much of the game.
“We were just missing that sharpness,” Bradley said. “The timing in some cases, and in some cases running out of ideas. I think we felt that part all day long.”
After appearing to settle into the game in the second half and taking a lead on a Corey Baird goal in the 55th minute, the Black & Gold quickly let Houston back in the match.
“We did really well to score the first goal,” Bradley said. “But then to make the big mistake a couple minutes later, allowing them right back in with the equalizer. Things like that today – I think we are all a bit frustrated with.”
In just the third game of the season, the Black & Gold continue to integrate both newly acquired players such as Baird, and players who have been injured like Diego Rossi, who missed the first two games of the season.
“It wasn’t our best game as a team,” Baird said. “We didn’t connect passes the way we normally do and we gave up the possession more than we wanted to. But, going away and getting the tie isn’t the worst thing in the world.”
Bradley also was able to take away some positives from a frustrating afternoon in Texas.
“I think we are still a good team,” Bradley said. “No doubt about that. I’m pleased that overall defensively we don’t give too much away.”
RETURN OF ROSSI
The match in Houston marked the return of Diego Rossi, the reigning 2020 MLS Golden Boot winner. Rossi missed LAFC’s first two matches with a hamstring strain, as the Black & Gold took a conservative approach to making sure he was healthy to start the season.
Rossi played 90 minutes vs. the Dynamo, and had some dangerous moments despite continuing to work his way back into top form.
“Diego has pushed himself to get back,” Bradley said. “His fitness level is always at the top of players on our team, and getting him back on the field is obviously important for us.”
While Rossi did not open his scoring account yet in 2021, he was able to link up with Corey Baird in the attack.
“It is fantastic to have Diego back,” Baird said. “He’s a big part of the team. Having someone like that back is great for us and he gives us a lot of confidence on the field. He is going to produce, create chances and score goals.”
BAIRD STRIKES AGAIN
LAFC acquired forward Corey Baird in an offseason trade with Real Salt Lake with the idea that he was going to score goals, and return to finding the back of the net much the way he did as the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year in Utah.
In three games so far, Baird has not disappointed – scoring two goals and proving to be a dangerous piece of the Black & Gold attack despite only playing 22 minutes with Carlos Vela and no minutes with the glittering combination of Vela and Rossi.
“He is doing well,” Bradley said about Baird. “He works very hard, that helps us. He puts pressure on and makes deep runs. He does a lot of the little things like that. Overall he has been a good addition and we are happy to have him.”
Baird was able to slot home LAFC’s only goal in the 55th minute, finishing off a tremendous sequence that showed the Black & Gold pinging the ball back and forth like they do in training. But, according to Baird – there is a lot of room for improvement.
“Yes, I got the goal today,” Baird said. “But I thought I was pretty sloppy in possession. I still have a lot to give. I could have been a lot more effective . There was some bad decision making, and I think I have a lot of room to grow. I think I need to pick up on things and keep performing at a higher level and creating more chances.”
SECOND STRAIGHT START FOR FARFAN
Defender Marco Farfan made his second straight start of the season, filling in on the right side of the field for Tristan Blackmon.
A young Portland-area native who was acquired in an offseason trade from the Timbers, Farfan is fitting right in along the LAFC backline as a utility player who can play on both sides of the field.
“We felt that he was somebody who could give us depth,” Bradley said. “His ability to pass inside certainly helps us at times in terms of having fluidity in the way we play, and defensively his reactions are good. I think Marco has done a good job and hopefully we can keep him going.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE GALAXY
Just moments after walking off the field in Houston, LAFC fans and media members were already turning their eyes to the Black & Gold’s next matchup – the first showdown of 2021 vs. the Galaxy. Round one will be in Carson at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“Of course, ‘El Trafico’ is special for all of us,” Bradley said. “They have all been big games, but that is a big game.”
It will be the first opportunity for Baird to participate in the much-hyped rivalry that before now he has watched from afar on TV.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere,” Baird said. “From the outside, you see the excitement, the drama and the intensity and emotion that is in that game. So for me to get to experience that, I am very excited and we know we need to keep working on the things that need work throughout the week.”
Marco Farfan has previously participated in another big MLS rivalry in the Pacific Northwest between the Timbers and Seattle Sounders, but now he is ready to see what the L.A. rivalry is like up close.
“This is a really big game,” Farfan said. “We are going to try and get the three points and try to play our football.”