Week three of the Major League Soccer season was an unusually important date for Los Angeles Football Club.
After two home games, the calendar placed LAFC on May 1st in Houston, with a place in the US Open Cup tournament at stake.
After US soccer officials postponed the spring tournament, finishing in the top 8 teams after three games just means what it normally does at this time of year: a solid start.
Increased stakes may no longer apply. However, if this had happened as originally planned, the Saturday afternoon competition at the BBVA Stadium would have been appropriate for both sides. In seven encounters between the opponents of the Western Conference, Houston won once, an epic US Open Cup semi-final in 2018, which was decided on a penalty shootout in Texas.
LAFC (1-0-1, 4 points) owns the high-profile regular season series to date with two draws and four wins – including the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winner in LA.
A year after winning its lone trophy and leading the MLS with eight road wins, the Black & Gold ended 2020 with a disappointing 6-1 away record.
Houston, the first of three direct travel dates for LAFC, caught its season opener at home against San Jose and lost three points in Portland last week.
The dynamo added speed and dexterity on both flanks and used it earlier in the season, noted LAFC head coach Bob Bradley as he attacked and tried to win the ball by pushing at certain moments.
The teams have scored 33 goals in seven games, and LAFC striker Diego Rossi is responsible for seven of them.
The 23-year-old No. 9 missed the first two games of the new season due to a strain on the left Achilles tendon. After fully training this week, Rossi should make his first appearance in 2021 against a team he is sticking to.
« You can see in practice this week that he failed to be on the field, » said Bradley of the 2020 Major League Soccer leading scorer who has made four in his last four games against Houston Goals and scored an impressive hat trick at the 2018 Open Cup semi-finals.
Uruguay’s criminal partner, 2019 MLS MVP and record-breaking goalscorer Carlos Vela, have remained restricted in training since leaving the field with a quad injury 22 minutes into the club’s opener against Austin FC.
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Bradley didn’t expect to add Vela to LAFC’s 20-man team on Saturday, but he hopes the Mexican captain can return against the galaxy in Carson on May 8th.
Bradley said, « I keep my fingers crossed that Carlos might be a little ready next week. »
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