Why always Houston? There hasn't been a normal match in the history of these two teams.
In three matches between LAFC and Houston in 2018, there's been two weather delays and one epic penalty shootout. On Friday, there was an almost two-hour rain and lightning delay... in Los Angeles! That's unheard of.
- LAFC 4-2 Houston Dynamo
But in some respects, the delay did Bob Bradley's team a solid, as LAFC regrouped after finding itself down 1-0 through 35 minutes of play and went on to finish the match runaway winners.
Here are the takeaways from a bizarre 4-2 win by LAFC over the Dynamo:
Get It Out Of Danger
LAFC started this match with nearly all the possession, but very little to show for it.
As the rain started to come down at Banc of California Stadium, the Black & Gold looked determined to break Houston down by throwing more and more numbers forward. As conditions deteriorated and LAFC couldn't find a breakthrough, that cavalier approach played right into Houston's hands.
A glimpse of a chance led to a loose ball deep in the Dynamo's half. Sensing the moment, LAFC counterpressed but failed to win the ball back. Houston charged right down the pitch with LAFC's numbers forward. Credit to the LAFC backline as the play started, they made due and snuffed out the initial thrust in transition from the Dynamo. But then they got a bit sloppy. A decision to try and play out the back goes awry, Houston recovers and Boniek Garcia has a free run at a flat-footed LAFC defense. The rain definitely helped, but LAFC had the moment contained.
It's errors like those that can be frustrating, as Walker Zimmerman attested to after the match. LAFC need to assess those dangerous moments with a little more alacrity down the stretch and in the playoffs. It could be the difference between a win and going home.
A few short minutes after the Dynamo goal, it looked like a monsoon out there. Lightning strikes in the area forced a halt to play. The two teams didn't emerge again until almost two hours later.
Whatever Bob Bradley and the players said and did in the downtime must have worked though. With the match restarted just after the 35-minute mark, LAFC didn't look content to go into halftime behind. The horizontal possession they enjoyed early took on a more much incisive nature going forward. The movement that led to the first goal was as close to sleight of hand as you can get on a pitch.
Diego Rossi held the ball wide to the left side of the pitch as Jordan Harvey overlapped. Adama Diomande and Aaron Kovar rotated across the Houston backline to show as options. As the the Dynamo defenders became aware of the shifting attackers, Carlos Vela laid in their wake. The ball went into Lee Nguyen centrally instead of forward to Diomande or Kovar and before Houston could adjust, Vela slipped in between the center back and left back and was clean on goal. Goalkeeper Tyler Deric had no choice but to bring the Mexican international down before he could shoot into a gaping net.
Vela coolly finished the penalty to level the score, and LAFC were on the front foot from there.
No Quit In The 3252
Win, lose, or draw, the 3252 vow their support of the Black & Gold. You can add "rain or shine" to that as well.
Through the almost two-hour delay, the 3252 remained in the North End and continued to go strong. After the match, Bob Bradley marveled at their energy. As the team sat in the locker room, multiple people went to check the field or get updates on when play might resume. Each time they came back, they commented on how loud the North End was even in the downpour. And as the team left the locker room to take the pitch once again, Walker Zimmerman said they could hear the drums the second they opened the door.
Vela Has A Hand In All Four
After the match, Carlos Vela nearly thanked the rain.
Through 35 minutes, the LAFC playmaker was, in his own words, no good. He lost possession easily and never seemed to find his rhythm. But he returned from the delay on a mission.
Vela finished the night with two goals and two assists. He was directly involved in all four LAFC goals.
This cheeky finish was the cherry on top:
LAFC was on a mission this week. After clinching a playoff spot, they made it known they weren't content.
To reach the Club's goal of 60 points and a possible first-round bye in the playoffs, these next two home matches would be decisive. Taking into account how unusual this match was, you have to commend LAFC's mentality. And with the win, they are in sole possession of second place for the time being with 56 points.
And while 56 isn't the team's goal, it is significant.
LAFC has surpassed Atlanta United's inaugural season points-total of 55 in 2017, and are now level with the 1998 Chicago Fire for the most points by an expansion team in its first year.
More history on an uncommonly rainy night in Los Angeles.