The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) has had a rough month of soccer after going 1-4-1 over a six-game stretch. Over that time, they lost their Supporters Shield lead to the Philadelphia Union and have gone from a chance to set a points record to well … not.
However, despite the skid LAFC received good news before their match against the Houston Dynamo.
On Saturday night by virtue of a tie for Austin FC, LAFC clinched the best record in the Western Conference for the MLS playoffs.
Not only did LAFC guarantee home pitch advantage up to the MLS Cup Final but they also garnered a place in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League.
A win against the Dynamo and LAFC would put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Supporters Shield race and they would avenge a 2-1 loss from August 31st in Houston.
LAFC took advantage early, seven minutes into the match Denis Bouanga was brought down in the box. Carlos Vela coolly scored from the penalty spot giving LAFC the early 1-0 lead.
The Dynamo were unfazed by their deficit and put pressure on LAFC’s backline, they were rewarded when Corey Baird slipped behind defender Diego Palacios and beat Maxime Crepeau one on one for the game-tying goal.
The goal typified the lack of focus that has plagued LAFC’s defense during their rough patch the last month.
Despite the goal, the team remained resilient and came back to take the lead. LAFC had upped the pressure and were kicking the ball in the Dynamo box when a cross hit Dynamo defender Tim Parker in the hand.
LAFC protests were disregarded at first but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) confirmed that Parker had not done enough to keep his hand away and LAFC was again awarded a penalty.
Again Vela stepped up and again he scored giving him his 11th goal of the season and LAFC the lead.
LAFC came out of the locker room focused and immediately went to work to get another goal. In the 52nd minute, Ryan Hollingshead collected a Bouanga deflected shot and faked the defender before putting a shot in the roof of the goal to extend the lead 3-1.
The LAFC backline kept up a stiff defense, especially defender Giorgio Chiellini who was named Man of the Match for his efforts and LAFC collected all three points with the win.
After the match coach Steve Cherundolo said this about the team and their focus going forward, “Our focus is always the next game, its very clear if we win the next two games we know what happens.”
A very simple plan, win and you collect silverware. With the win against the Dynamo they’ve taken clear steps to get there.