Houston strikes hard and strikes early
LAFC heavily rotated their lineup after the Open Cup game a few days ago. Maybe this is what caused a slow start, or maybe it was just Houston taking the initiative, despite them generally being a counterattacking team.
Houston attacked early, and hit the post within the first minute of the game. And not two minutes later they scored, Romell Quioto with a strike from the left side of the box that took a slight deflection to get past Tyler Miller.
LAFC does not generally go behind early, and with a lineup that does not typically play together, it was going to be a tough slog back for the black-and-gold.
Houston could have, should have finished the game off early
Houston kept up the pressure early on, and they had a number of chances to add to their lead. A few shots went just wide, and some required last ditch defending, the most notable of those being an incredible recovery for Mohamed El-Munir, who was able to track down a long through ball that eluded all the defenders and Tyler Miller, and just played the ball out over the goal ahead of Alberth Elis who would’ve had a tap in.
Another long ball in was controlled by Elis, but this attempt was saved by Tyler Miller. LAFC were cut open way too easily by Houston, but with some last ditch defending they were able to hang on and not allow another goal.
LAFC hang in there, and flip the game on its head
So often in soccer if you don’t take your chances, you get punished on the other end. And this is what happened to Houston.
After defending by the skin of their teeth, and being denied what looked like a penalty, LAFC tied the game just before halftime, Lee Nguyen chipping the ball in at the back post for Adama Diomande to head across the goal and in. This was a huge moment, probably the turning point in the game, to level the match during stoppage time after being so close to conceding multiple goals.
That same combo took the lead a few mins into the second half, Lee Nguyen playing in an open Dio to score again and take a 2-1 one lead. This not only gave LAFC the lead, but opened the game up as Houston pushed for an equalizer.
LAFC attack well into space, limit Houston’s chances in 2nd half
Once they took the lead, LAFC were able to find more space and attack well into that space. Not coincidentally, Diego Rossi was introduced in the second half and helped to drive the play forward. Despite pushing for an equalizer, Houston were not able to generate the same chances they were in the first half. LAFC then finished off the game late on, with a beautiful left-footed chip into the goal, sealing a hard fought and somewhat fortunate win.
Carlos Vela was able to rest
To come back and win was great, to do so and allow Carlos Vela to rest was even better. Like a lot of his games, Vela was punished physically in that Open Cup match against Portland on Wednesday, and it was unsure if he would make the 18 tonight. He did, but the team was able to rally and take the game without Vela having to come in. During a long season you get rest where you can, and this was a nice opportunity for Vela to get some rest and recovery.
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