Down a man for the final half-hour, the Houston Dynamo fell by a narrow 2-1 margin to the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) this evening at Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC opened the scoring in the ninth minute when forward Diego Rossi tapped in a ball that was crossed through the box by defender Mohamed El Munir. LAFC took advantage of a takeaway in the middle third and quickly moved into the attack, with midfielder Jose Cifuentes drawing a defender before slipping a pass to El Munir to set up his centering ball.
In the 22nd minute, LAFC went two goals up when midfielder Jesus Murillo put his foot on a loose ball in the box after a corner kick, sending it to defender Eddie Segura who blasted a first-touch shot through the Houston defense and into the back of the net.
Houston got on the score sheet 30 seconds into the second half when all three Dynamo forwards teamed up for a nifty combination play inside the box. Colombian forwards Mauro Manotas and Darwin Quintero passed the ball through the LAFC defense and found forward Ari Lassiter, who tapped the ball into the net. The goal came on Lassiter’s first touch of the night after he entered the match as a halftime substitute.
The Dynamo started the game pressing high, with a couple of excellent chances in the first five minutes. Manotas tried to slide a ball in in the second minute, forcing a first save from LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
Manotas nearly leveled the match at a goal apiece in the 13th minute when he collected a pass from Quintero at the top of the area. Manotas took a touch, spun on his heel and fired the ball toward the top left corner of the goal, forcing an acrobatic diving save on Vermeer to keep it out.
Quintero dribbled towards the box in the 30th minute and passed the ball to midfielder Memo Rodriguez, who fired a right-footed ball to the right side of the goal, hitting the crossbar. The referee ruled a handball by Segura on Rodriguez’ shot, awarding a penalty kick to Houston. Manotas took it, sending the ball to the right side of the goal, but Vermeer guessed correctly and was able to save the shot.
The pace of the match remained high, with LAFC forcing Houston goalkeeper Marko Marić to stay alert throughout the match. Marić made a stellar save in the 74th minute when Rossi fired a shot on target, flying to stop the shot. In the 83rd minute, LAFC forward Carlos Vela got free in the penalty area for a one-on-one shot that Marić did well to save.
Houston faces a quick turnaround leading up to a nationally-televised match with at FC Dallas on Saturday afternoon. That match is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff from Frisco and will be shown nationwide on Univision. It will be the fourth and final match of the 2020 Texas Derby, and the Dynamo need a win or a draw to capture the season series and regain possession of El Capitán, the Texas Revolutionary War-era cannon that goes to the annual series victor.