LAFC 2, Houston Dynamo 1
MLS Regular Season – Game #20
Oct. 28, 2020
A resurgent LAFC returned to Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday night to host the Houston Dynamo, aiming to continue their October momentum and keep moving up the Western Conference standings. After defeating the Galaxy 2-0 just three days before, Diego Rossi started the Black & Gold off early with a goal in the 9th minute. LAFC made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when Eddie Segura pounced on a loose ball in the box off of a corner kick and rocketed it past Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric.
After an early goal at the start of the second half by Ariel Lassiter cut the lead in half, Houston went down to 10 men following Matias Vera’s second yellow card, and LAFC was able to hang on for the crucial three points and clinch the third consecutive playoff appearance in Club history.
“It’s always good to take three points,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “But I didn't believe we played well. We scored goals early. We were very careless, casual and we spoke about it at halftime. We then started the second half and immediately allowed Houston right back into the game. It was not enough guys really taking responsibility, being sharp enough.”
LAFC ends the month with a 4-1-1 record and has taken a point in five of their last six matches.
“We've got two regular-season games left, and we've got to be harder on each other,” Bradley said. “We've got to raise the bar a little bit because that kind of game, that sloppiness, that carelessness, end much the year when games really matter, that won't hold up.”
With the win, LAFC clinched a spot in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. It is the third straight year the Black & Gold has played postseason football, making the final two matches of the regular season important for seeding as Bob Bradley continues to acclimate returning players such as Carlos Vela.
“We have two regular-season matches left,” Bradley said. “You've really got to try to hit the playoffs with confidence, with sharpness and with a mentality that we're a team that's going to fight every game, play our football, compete, and try to move and get ourselves to a final and win an MLS Cup. So we were pretty critical after the game inside the locker room tonight because it's a message that everyone has to understand.”
LAFC defender Mohamed El Munir agrees with Bradley that the Black & Gold need to sharpen up before the playoffs arrive.
“We have two more games before the playoffs,” Munir said. “The goal actually for us now, even though we got the three points, but you can see that nobody on the team is happy with the performance, to be honest. We just need to focus when the game is close, and keep working on the details so we can be ready.”
BOB MAKES HISTORY
Head coach Bob Bradley continues to make history with LAFC. One of the most decorated coaches in American soccer, Bradley is a three-time MLS Coach of the Year award-winner and is now all alone as the third-winningest coach in MLS history.
The win vs. the Dynamo on Oct. 28 was Bradley’s 170th career victory. He is now all alone in third place, moving past former Houston and San Jose coach and current Galaxy assistant coach Dominic Kinnear.
Bradley now sits behind just Sigi Schmid (240 wins) and Bruce Arena (217).
MLS ALL-TIME COACHING RECORDS
W L T
Sigi Schmid 240 183 125
Bruce Arena 217 128 105
Bob Bradley 170 114 76
Dominic Kinnear 169 137 135
With Halloween just days away, October has turned into a month of treats for LAFC. After an up and down, roller-coaster journey of a season the Club seems to have rightened the ship and has now put together a 4-1-1 record in their last six matches, earning a point in five of the last six.
But despite the recent success, Bradley was not happy with the level of effort in the match vs. the Dynamo and will be looking for improvement in the final two matches of the regular season.
“Tonight I made sure everybody understood we have to raise the standards and we have to push each other,” Bradley said. “That's the only way we can be a team to win some trophies as the year finishes up.”
VERMEER STEPS IN AND STEPS UP
LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer got the start on Wednesday vs. the Dynamo, his first start since Aug. 30 vs. Seattle. With Pablo Sisniega, who had started the last 12 games in the net missing in action due to a minor right leg injury suffered on Sunday vs. the Galaxy, the veteran Vermeer stepped in and came up big with several huge saves.
Vermeer stuffed Mauro Manotas on a penalty kick in the 32nd minute. Correctly diving to his left and smothering the rebound. Houston received the penalty after a handball was called on Eddie Segura.
“I would give a lot of credit to Kenneth Vermeer,” Bradley said. “He made a couple of really big saves, including a penalty. So I know that his attitude, he's been great with Pablo throughout and I think all of us were excited for him to come back into the team and play well.”
Vermeer commanded the LAFC backline and despite giving up an early goal in the second goal, was able to help slam the door on the Dynamo.
“It was like we didn’t come out for the second half, it was ridiculous giving up the goal after just something like 20 seconds,” Vermeer said. “For me, I just always train hard and when the team needs me, try to be there for the team. We are at the end of the season. Playoffs are coming and we need to be our best.”
ROSSI BACK TO RACKING IT UP
The Diego Rossi race to the Golden Boot got one step closer to the finish line on Wednesday, with Rossi knocking in his 12th goal of the season. The 22-year old Uruguayan leads MLS in goals and continues to be one of the most dominating players in the league in 2020.
Rossi is looking to make history and follow his teammate Carlos Vela as a Golden Boot winner in 2019. Rossi also won the Golden Boot at the MLS IS BACK tournament in July.
CARLOS CONTINUES THE COMEBACK
Carlos Vela continued his comeback on Wednesday from a knee injury, coming off the bench to play 30 minutes vs. Houston. The MLS goal-scoring king and 2019 MVP was injured on Aug. 22 and last played 90 minutes on March 8 vs. Philadelphia.
After a 10-week layoff, Bradley and the LAFC staff continue to be cautious with Vela. He played 20 minutes on Sunday and scored a goal, and will continue to ease back into the lineup to be ready for the Playoffs in November.
“That is the plan,” Bradley said. “We will try to go step by step with him.”