Diomande's Brace Boosts LAFC Past Houston Dynamo With 3-1 Win
After suffering a demoralizing elimination from the U.S. Open Cup just 48 hours earlier, LAFC quickly turned the page and defeated the Houston Dynamo on the road by a 3-1 score line in Week 19 of the 2019 MLS season. With this result, LAFC remain in 1st place of the Western Conference and are currently on a 3-game winning streak in league play. During the course of this victorious run, the Black & Gold have scored 14 goals, putting their scoring average at 4.6 goals per game. The win over Houston was the first in history at BBVA Stadium for LAFC and it was also the first home loss for the Dynamo this season. In a match where Bob Bradley was obliged to make player rotations due to the heavy scheduling, the men on the field responded well. It was not the greatest of starts as far as the game goes but eventually, the Black & Gold found themselves.
Considering the nine changes in the starting lineup in comparison to the match vs Portland, the chemistry between the players on the field was inexistent to begin the game. If you add erroneous passing, slow reactions and poor decision making to that, the majority of the first half was one to forget for LAFC. As a result, the Black & Gold found themselves down on the scoreboard within three minutes of the opening whistle. After a series of careless giveaways in their own half, the Black & Gold were punished on one of them through Dynamo forward Romell Quioto. Whether it was nerves or inexperience, LAFC rookie Peter-Lee Vassell lost the ball in the midfield on several occasions as his turnover led to Houston’s opening goal. At the end of the day, it was a good learning experience for the 21-year old to be put in tough environments like last night’s as he continues to grow as a footballer.
As the first half progressed, the Dynamo continued to attack the league-leaders by sending long balls in between LAFC’s center-backs, who had never played a competitive match together before. Defenders Tristan Blackmon and Dejan Jakovic were clearly on different schedules as their lack of communication allowed for Houston to have a couple of clear scoring chances. If it weren’t for a miraculous slide tackle from Mohammed El-Munir or a fingertip-save from Tyler Miller, the game might have been sealed in the first 30 minutes of the match.
The goalkeeper situation at LAFC has been a conversation of interest as of late. Miller’s roller-coaster performance tonight raised even more questions as to who should be the starter. Although the U.S. international had plenty of good saves, his imprecise distribution and “butterfly-picking” coming out his box, calls for concern. Don’t forget that he was bailed out twice by his long white, skinny friend (the post). Given the fact that Miller has not played a competitive match in over a month, I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. However, Pablo Sisniega is right behind him, ready to take over if called upon.
The Lee-Dio Connection: Pt. 1
In the dying moments of the first half, the Black & Gold were finally able to find themselves through the build-up approach as at least 10 passes were connected before the final product from forward Adama Diomande. It was the type of goal that was beautiful to see as Vassell showed flashes of his dynamic ability and Lee Nguyen’s vision to pick out Dio in the box was nothing short of fantastic. Diomande’s header would give LAFC a boost of confidence going into the half that would roll over into the second 45 minutes.
The Lee-Dio Connection: Pt: 2
Bob Bradley saw a window to win this game and took it. His first move was to bring in Latif Blessing for Peter-Lee Vassell at halftime and it paid off almost immediately. Blessing started a counter attack in the midfield and played a good pass to forward Josh Perez. The Montebello native exploded for a 40-yard run while juking his defender in the process and played a dangerous cross into the box. Diomande and Nguyen would connect again for LAFC’s second goal as Dio passed the ball into the net for his brace while surrounded by Houston defenders. Nguyen’s vision was highlighted in this goal again as the midfielder looks to have regained his confidence after dealing with injuries.
There was an unfortunate sighting in the 53rd minute as LAFC forward Rodolfo Zelaya was forced to exit due to what it seemed like a muscle injury. As for his game performance, it was not his best showing. The Salvadorian barely touched the ball and when he did, it was far from where he can create danger. Fito has been struggling to get involved with his new team as the chemistry between him and his teammates has not been there all season. He was replaced by Diego Rossi, who was much more productive in the 40 minutes he got to participate on the pitch.
Rossi On Fire
Towards the end of the game, LAFC’s transition game was spot on and Josh Perez would be involved yet again. Kaye, who played the role of Atuesta reasonably well, recovered the ball in the midfield and played the ball to Diomande, who then picked out the run of Perez. The 21-year old American dribbled through a couple of defenders and crossed the ball to Rossi, who finished over Houston’s goalkeeper for LAFC’s third goal. The Uruguayan has now scored in three consecutive league matches and has brought up his total to 11 goals for the season. The game was over and LAFC had come from behind and completed the comeback in a brilliant display of mental and physical toughness.
With a full week to rest and prepare for the next game, the Black & Gold have themselves another challenge when they visit the Galaxy next Friday. Look for my preview to “El Trafico” on the morning of Thursday, July 18th. Carson, we are coming for you!