LAFC Vs Houston Dynamo: MLS is Back Preview – Dealing with Carlos Vela absence

MLS, LAFC, Carlos Vela (Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
MLS, LAFC, Carlos Vela (Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

This MLS is Back Tournament Group F match pits known 2019 league steamroller LAFC against the unknown Houston Dynamo. Here is a full match preview.

Los Angeles FC enter the MLS is Back Tournament building on the team’s 2019 momentum. That momentum carried the squad to the top of the MLS Western Conference and a historic Supporters’ Shield. They face developing squad, the Houston Dynamo.

The Dynamo finished 10th in the West. They jettisoned their head coach, with Tab Ramos taking over in the offseason. He has been an assistant coach for the U.S. National Men’s Team and head coach of the U-20 squad. Now in the professional ranks, it remains to be seen what he will do with this Dynamo squad.

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The initial two-game MLS season isn’t enough statistical sampling for either pencil-pushers or seasoned scouts to make sweeping conclusions about the Dynamo. Add to that the shaky foundation for the tournament from early COVID-19 interruptions as players test positive and the lack of fitness of both teams after four months without any competitive play and this match is ripe for unpredictability and shock.

While this particular match is anyone’s guess, once teams gain fitness and get back into their groove, expect to see the usual names rise to the top. That includes LAFC, even without league MVP Carlos Vela. Vela abstained from the competition to remain with his pregnant partner. His absence would hurt any team in the league, but in Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez, LAFC still have two elite wide attackers to utilise.

Houston, meanwhile, will do well to get out of the group. Alongside these teams are the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, two Western playoff teams. Ramos will simply be hoping for progress as he continues to teach his system to his new team. On this occasion, though, anything other than a defeat would be a remarkable achievement.

Los Angeles FC

2019 Record: 21-4-9 (W-L-D)

2020 Results: 1-0 win vs. Inter Miami CF; 3-3 draw vs. Philadelphia Union

Head Coach: Bob Bradley

Projected Starters: Kenneth Vermeer; Andy Najar, Tristan Blackmon, Eddie Segura, Jordan Harvey; Latif Blessing, Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye; Brian Rodriguez, Diego Rossi, Adama Diomande.

Houston Dynamo

2019 Record: 12-18-4 (W-L-D)

2020 Results: 1-1 draw vs. LA Galaxy; 0-4 loss to Sporting Kansas City

Head Coach: Tab Ramos

Projected Starters: Marko Maric; Adam Lundqvist, Mayor Figueroa, Aljaz Struna, Zarek Valentin; Boniek Garcia, Matias Vera, Tomas Martinez, Memo Rodriguez, Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas,

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LAFC will look to carry the steamroller momentum from last season. It will be up to the Houston Dynamo to do what few teams have done since: slow them down.