Match Preview

Preview | LAFC vs Houston Dynamo 12/2/23

LAFC_DAL_PREVIEW

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo

Saturday, December 2 at 6:30 pm PT

Location: BMO Stadium, Los Angeles California

Radio: 710 AM ESPN, ESPN LA App, 980 AM La Mera Mera

After a hard-fought 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Semifinal last Sunday, LAFC hosts Houston Dynamo FC in the Western Conference Final on Saturday, December 2, at BMO Stadium. The winner will advance to the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, December 9.

Dénis Bouanga’s 30th-minute goal against Seattle was enough for LAFC to book its third trip to the conference final in the last five years, and its second in a row. Bouanga’s breakaway goal was the 37th he has scored across all competitions in 2023, one shy of Carlos Vela’s MLS- record of 38 goals, which he set in 2019.

The reigning MLS Cup champions host a Houston team that defeated LAFC in both of their regular-season matchups in 2023, including a 1-0 defeat at BMO Stadium in June.  

In a bit of déjà vu, the Black & Gold hosted another Texas-based club (Austin FC) in last year’s Western Conference Final, where LAFC avenged two regular-season losses to the Verde with a 3-0 win that sent LAFC to the MLS Cup Final. 

LAFC’s record against the Dynamo is 5W-3L-5D, with Houston winning just once in six trips to Los Angeles.

Dynamo In-depth

Led by head coach and former USMNT player Ben Olsen, the Dynamo are looking to add to their trophy cabinet, having lifted the club’s second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year. (Houston also won that competition in 2018.)

The Dynamo lost just one match over their final 14 games (9W-1L-4D in all competitions) and finished in fourth place in the Western Conference. Houston defeated Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City in the first two rounds of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Club is captained by Designated Player Héctor Herrera, who played alongside LAFC captain Carlos Vela on the Mexican national team. The former Atletico Madrid midfielder scored four goals and added 17 assists in MLS play in 2023, en route to being named to MLS’ Best XI. 

Former LAFC defender Franco Escobar, who scored the game-winner for Houston in last week’s conference semifinal, returns to BMO Stadium for the second time since he lifted the MLS Cup with the Black & Gold in 2022. Dynamo forward (and SoCal native) Corey Baird also played for LAFC last season.

The Black & Gold Will Win If

it ignores its standing as the so-called favorite in this match and starts the game fast and hungry. The Dynamo attack loves to send numbers forward, so look for LAFC to attack on the counter, a mode of play that has served the club well all season, including in its semifinal win in Seattle. LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, who played a massive role against the Sounders, will be called on to contribute leadership and smart ball distribution.

The Dynamo Can Win If

they find a way to score first and keep LAFC’s loud and constant fan support from influencing the match. Last weekend against SKC, one goal was enough for the Dynamo to advance; the club only needed one goal to leave BMO Stadium with a victory back in June. That may well be their strategy on Saturday. Winger Nelson Quiñónes, whose speed and dynamic dribbling skills have bothered opponents throughout 2023, will look to exploit any defensive errors on LAFC’s flanks to try and create that one-goal advantage.

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