The Houston Dynamo have some serious lessons to learn about consistency and LAFC came to town on Friday night to provide a master class. Going into the match, the Dynamo were undefeated at home, but this record doesn’t speak to the disappointing rash of recent road losses; Houston desperately needed to bring fans a win at home both to maintain the streak and shore up the fading confidence of internal and external stakeholders.
Sadly, the result of the match – a 3-1 loss – brought no relief to Houston players or fans, and the only thing left to do is learn from the lessons that LAFC taught and hope that this will mark the turnaround of the 2019 season.
Houston’s Starting XI was absolutely the flagship effort from this team and had every piece that fans and pundits deemed lacking in previous weeks’ losses.
Houston had all four Hondurans starting – forward playmakers Elis and Quioto, clutch defender Figueroa, and captain Boniek Garcia in the middle. Lundkvist and Struna shored up the back line, and the (undeserved) defensive scapegoat Garcia was on the bench. This should have been the recipe for absolute victory for the men in orange.
Conversely, LAFC’s lineup was a snapshot of their depth. Having played their starters just 48 hours earlier in a loss against the Timbers in the US Open Cup quarterfinal, 9 of 11 men were replaced in the starting lineups between Wednesday and Friday.
LA let Houston dominate the first half, conceding a goal from Romell Quioto just 3 minutes in, and it looked like their depth squad was going to have similar disappointing results as the Dynamo’s depth in the last several matches. Houston had multiple chances at goal and, were it not for some late defending against Alberth Elis in the box, the first half could have easily been 4-0 for Houston. The lessons for Houston began in the dying moments of the first half when LA’s Diomande cut loose to tie things up at 1 going into the half.
Just as the Dynamo were up minutes into the first half, LAFC came out strong and found themselves up by one early in the second. And while LA showed the Dynamo how to push through a deficit in the first half, Houston did not follow suit and began to fall apart after Diomande’s second goal in the 49th minute. Houston’s comeback chances took another blow when LA brought in superstars Blessing and Rossi early in the 2nd.
While they had more offensive chances, Houston’s errors in the midfield and defense kept them too busy in their own half to stage a comeback. Rossi’s goal in the 88th minute was a final nail in the coffin for Houston but also a moment that many fans in the stadium had come to see.
LAFC came to Houston and played their depth, looking just like a first team. If the Dynamo can figure out how to duplicate that consistency across changes in lineup, they may find the turnaround that the squad so desperately needs. A 3-1 loss at home cuts deep in Houston, but the Dynamo are back on the road again to Atlanta this Wednesday.
Featured image: Leslie Chairez
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