Diego Rossi’s hat trick in the U.S. Open Cup was not enough to send LAFC through to the finals. The Houston Dynamo won 7-6 on penalties and will face the Philadelphia Union, with the winner taking home silverware.
“I told the guys after the game that I could not be prouder and there’s a lot to build on,” Bob Bradley said afterwards.
With the final on the line, Bradley opted to field a strong starting eleven. His only change on Wednesday was replacing Adama Diomande for Eduard Atuesta up top.
Houston Comes out on top Early
LAFC were in the driver’s seat early after Rossi scored his first goal in the sixth minute of play. The visitors pounced on a lose ball and immediately went on the counter attack. Lee Nguyen threaded an exquisite outside of the foot pass into Rossi’s path. Then, he slotted his attempt past Houston’s Joe Willis.
Six minutes later, the Dynamo were able to capitalize on a corner kick. LAFC fell asleep on the set piece which allowed Andrew Wenger to bundle home an Adam Lundqvist cross at the far post.
Not long after, in the 25th minute, Houston took a 2-1 lead through Mauro Manotas. Once more, Bradley’s defense, captained by Laurent Ciman, were caught off guard. Alberth Elis managed to slip a diagonal pass into space, which Manotas reached easily. Manotas was able to sneak his shot past Tyler Miller, who got down to make the save, but the ball still bounced into the net.
Wild Second Half Sees Match go to Penalties
Houston edged further ahead 25 minutes into the second half, which put them firmly into the driver’s seat.
And, it came through the Wharton, Texas native, Memo Rodriguez, who replaced Romell Quioto three minutes earlier. The Dynamo’s Rodriguez battled Steven Beitashour on the edge of the box before whipping a shot past Miller at the near post.
LAFC pulled one goal back three minutes later through Rossi’s second. The left back, Jordan Harvey, had a cross deflected on its way into the box. Houston were unable to advert danger, as Rossi chested down the ball before firing his shot beyond Willis.
But LAFC weren’t done yet, as the 20-year-old Rossi completed his hat trick in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Aaron Kovar whipped in a dangerous free kick towards the far post.
The Dynamo’s Willis punched it away from goal, but didn’t clear his line all the way. Rossi rushed into the area and looped his header into the back of the net to tie the match.
During the penalty shootout, Willis was able to stymie LAFC from the spot two times to advance to the next round. However, LA had the potential to win the shootout early on. The Belgian defender, Ciman, stepped up to the spot. His attempt, though, was weak and Wills made his first save to keep his side in the match.
“If they continue to believe in what we do and continue to improve and work we’ll get rewarded, it just didn’t happen tonight,” Bradley said afterwards.
LAFC return home to continue MLS action on Saturday at the Banc of California Stadium. There, they will take on the 2017 U.S. Open Cup winners, Sporting Kansas City. Kick off is set for 7:30 PM.