Wednesday, October 28, 2020
7:30 p.m. PT
TV: YouTube TV, Estrella TV
Radio: ESPN LA 710AM, ESPN App, KFWB 980 AM
As the 2020 MLS regular season nears to a close, each additional point gained becomes increasingly important with only five points separating LAFC from the top of the Western Conference table. Sunday night’s match against the Galaxy boasted the typical on-pitch drama, with the Black & Gold ultimately winning their first regular season match at home against their crosstown rivals. Up next, the Club faces Western Conference opponent Houston Dynamo, a team with extra motivation as they fight to break into the playoff picture.
Houston is a club LAFC has faced only one other time this season, a 3-3 draw in the first match of the MLS is Back Tournament, and it will be a welcome change from the steady stream of West Coast teams the Black & Gold have played multiple times in this strange 2020 season.
These two sides have a longer history though, including two matches that featured rain delays (7/3/18, 10/12/18). However, Houston is yet to take three regular season points from LAFC, with their all-time regular season series sitting at 3-0-2 in LAFC’s favor. Houston does have an important win against the Black & Gold though, knocking the Club out of their first-ever U.S. Open Cup semifinals in 2018 in penalties.
The Dynamo are in their most crucial stretch of the 2020 season, with three games remaining, and just three points separating them from playoff contention.
"I can’t even think about the playoffs if we don’t win," Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said after a 1-1- draw to the Columbus Crew on Saturday. "All we can do is think about out next opponent, LAFC, and try to win that game to see what happens after that. If we don’t get the points, it’s difficult to make the playoffs.”
Houston currently sits in 10th place in the Western Conference with a record of 4-7-9 (21 pts).
LAFC looked like themselves for the first time in a while on Sunday. More than the result, LAFC got back to their style of football: building through the middle and connecting their passes, and it may be coming at a perfect time as the Club fights for playoff seeding. With the 2-0 win against Galaxy, the Black & Gold sit in 4th place in the Western Conference with a record of 8-7-4 (28 pts).
The Dynamo find themselves in a tough spot after transferring Designated Player and one of MLS’s most dynamic wingers Alberth Elis to Portuguese club Boavista on Sept. 21. Boasting good coaching and talent, it appears Houston has struggled with motivation since the transfer. They still have a dangerous attacking front anchored by Darwin Quintero that is capable of scoring goals.
LAFC has faced challenges to its rotation throughout the season, but finally it appears that the Club is getting all their injured players back at the right time. Against the Galaxy, LAFC returned reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela, Tristan Blackmon, and Latif Blessing from injury and Diego Rossi, Brian Rodríguez, Diego Palacios, and José Cifuentes back from the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers. Yes, Carlos Vela scored in his 20 minutes on the pitch, but even more than the goal, it appeared the squad is coming together with its sharpness and mentality that has been lacking throughout the season.
“Just getting guys back has been a big boost,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “It makes training better; it means that there’s more competition for guys to get on the field.” There is no better time than now.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF…
They can keep the momentum going from the win over the Galaxy. They were able to connect passes, build through the middle, and ultimately break down the Galaxy backline who was sitting in a deep block. For one of the first times this season, LAFC defended well against set pieces and direct play. If LAFC can keep this going, they will find success.
HOUSTON CAN WIN IF…
Darwin Quintero can find space and deliver dangerous balls to Memo Rodriguez and Mauro Manotas. Rodriguez has now scored goals in back-to-back matches, and if Houston digs deep looking for a playoff spot – they will be tough to beat.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
- With Jesus Murillo getting more LAFC minutes under his belt as a center back, it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff integrates defender Tristan Blackmon back into the lineup. Blackmon had played in the center, but has also played right back this season.
- Danny Musovski has been a major bright spot for LAFC recently, and with most of LAFC’s talented attackers healthy and back from international duty, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to pick up minutes. Between Musovski, Diego Rossi, Brian Rodríguez and Bradley Wright-Phillips, the coaching staff will have some difficult personnel decisions to deal with.