And we go again.
The residual emotions from the loss in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday are still very real. But less than 48 hours later, LAFC faces a new challenge.
There are no two ways about it. This trip to Houston to face the Dynamo on Friday is inconvenient, to say the least. LAFC turn around from a physically and emotionally draining quarterfinal to play its fourth match in 10 days. Even if the Black & Gold had been victorious against Portland, the quick turnaround of this Houston trip is a major hurdle to overcome before the teams even take the pitch. And that's without mentioning the impending weather emergency headed for the Gulf Coast.
It's a challenge on nearly every front for LAFC, a test of the Club's depth, conditioning, and mental toughness in the most extreme circumstances. Here is the preview of LAFC's trip to face the Houston Dynamo on Friday:
LAFC at Houston Dynamo | July 12 at 6:00pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: Streaming live on Twitter, UníMas 46
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
Official LAFC Watch Party: The Down & Out Bar in Downtown LA
After starting the season as one of the hottest teams in MLS, Houston in the midst of a free fall as of late. The Dynamo have just one win in its last seven matches, losing five. Wilmer Cabrera's team were thoroughly bested by FC Cincinnati in the Dynamo's last match. Two late Houston goals flattered to deceive with the scoreline finishing 3-2, despite FCC being up 3-0 into the 79th minute.
What The Players Are Saying
Lee Nguyen on preparing after Wednesday's match: "We played there last year and we know what it's like, the heat and humidity. We've got to take care of our bodies today by hydrating. I'm sure we'll do video [Thursday] or the day of. We'll be ready."
Tyler Miller on the team's mindset ahead of the short turnaround: "We know our team is good and we have a lot of depth. We know that we can go to Houston and put in a good, strong performance that we expect from ourselves week in and week out."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
Bob Bradley has gone on record as saying players that featured 90 minutes over the last two matches would not play in Houston. Expect almost full-scale rotation from the starting 11 we saw against Portland.
What To Watch For
Next Man Up: Now with one less competition to prepare for, opportunities for those on the outside of the starting 11 are going to be that much harder to come by. The trip to Houston might be one of the best chances to prove a player should be trusted with a bigger role going forward. Players like Tristan Blackmon, Pablo Sisniega, and Mohamed El-Munir have made a case recently with good performances when called on. Will anyone else work their way into contention?
Mind Games: I don't envy Bob Bradley and his staff ahead of this match. After the let down of crashing out of the Open Cup, they have almost no time to prepare the squad to face the Dynamo. This will be a test of the mentality of the squad as a whole. The players have to show a bit of character and grit to rise to this challenge. The physical wear and tear is one thing but the mental exhaustion is very real. The entire squad is saying the right things and focusing only on the task at hand. This will be the biggest test of the team's self-belief to date.
The Return Of Tyler Miller: Much of the squad is nearly impossible to predict but one position seems certain. Tyler Miller is back with the squad after being away at the Gold Cup with the U.S. Men's National Team. The LAFC No. 1 hasn't played in over a month but has been putting in extra work with goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel to quickly get up to speed. The match in Houston is a chance for Miller to get back on the pitch and lead his side from the back when they need him most.