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Held down: LAFC 1, Houston Dynamo 1

Black-and-gold continue to struggle in unlocking wily Dynamo.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC continued their recent relative struggles against the Houston Dynamo, as the teams played to their second 1-1 draw of the season on Saturday, this one at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC had to work hard for their goal, but once again their failed to hold the lead, as the wily Dynamo came back for a hard-fought equalizer and were good value for the draw. For LAFC, it’s another frustrating draw.

Marco Farfan started at left back with Diego Palacios at the Copa América, and the lineup was basically as expected otherwise, with Jose Cifuentes beating out Latif Blessing for a starting spot in midfield.

Diego Rossi had a decent look in the 4th minute off a feed from Corey Baird, but his attempt sailed over the goal.

Eddie Segura nearly scored in the 33rd minute on the second phase of a free kick, with Baird’s fizzing cross just a little too strong for the defender to tap in at the back post.

The teams went into the break tied 0-0. LAFC were very much the better team in the 1st half, but none of their five shots were on target and they needed to be a little bit sharper to make the Dynamo pay.

Bryce Duke entered the game at halftime for Mark-Anthony Kaye, likely a move to prevent Kaye from getting too tired with a spate of games ahead and with Duke playing well lately on loan at Las Vegas Lights.

Cifuentes had a decent shot from range a few minutes into the 2nd half, but his effort was tipped over the goal by Marco Maric. But moments later, Cifuentes scored at the backpost off a Carlos Vela corner kick, the ball squirting over to the Ecuadorian unmarked.

But Maxi Urruti notched an equalizer in the 58th minute, with Fafa Picault hitting a centering pass and the Argentine buried it amid a crowd of defenders. It was another bad concession by LAFC, honestly, considering how many defenders were back and seemingly set for the chance.

LAFC made two more changes in the 64th minute, with Cal Jennings replacing Baird and Raheem Edwards entering for Vela, again likely pre-planned to keep the star fresh with games coming thick and fast.

After that, however, Houston started to get more and more of the ball and LAFC had to spend more time back in their own half defending.

Kim Moon-hwan replaced Tristan Blackmon in the 78th minute.

Rossi was bottled up most of the night, but he had a good chance in the 86th minute off a feed from Duke, but his effort went right to Maric, who caught the ball. Moments later, Edwards had an open shot in the box that went just wide of the target. Then in stoppage time, a great link-up play from Jennings to Cifuentes to Rossi led to a wonderful shot by the Uruguayan, but it curved just a little too high to hit the mark.

So a draw is better than a loss, but it’s still pretty frustrating under the circumstances. I totally understand the subs to keep some big stars fresh with a lot of games coming up quickly, but this is another disappointing result for LAFC. I think the Dynamo are a lot more stout than most give them credit for, and I don’t expect LAFC to walk over Houston, but if LAFC really think they’re a contender, these are the kind of games they have to win. And right now, they aren’t at that point. The only consolation is there’s a lot of games yet to be played and fix these struggles.

LAFC will host FC Dallas for the teams’ first meeting in a long time on Wednesday, so it will be short rest for the black-and-gold. It’ll be another game LAFC should feel like they can win, but will they? Stay tuned.

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