Houston, Texas – After a brief home stand, and welcoming fans back to The Banc, LAFC hit the road. The black and gold traveled to Houston where they faced off against the Dynamo. While they didn’t do enough for the win, they were able to come away with a share of the three points.
LAFC Travel to Houston, Share Points, After Disappointing Display
The first half was about as discombobulated as we’ve seen from LAFC. The passing was sloppy, the timing was off, and the finishing in the final third, nonexistent. The most concerning, how susceptible Los Angeles were on the counter. If the Houston Dynamo were a more clinical side, it would have been trouble. While LAFC couldn’t get an opener of their own, they were at least able to keep the match scoreless going into the half.
The second half is where, at least so far this year, LAFC really find themselves. Three of their four goals this season have come in the second half. Yesterday was no different. In the 55th minute, LAFC flexed their passing precision and beautiful football, with a gorgeous build-up. One-two-three passing found a wide open Corey Baird at the far post, who slotted in an easy goal for his second of the year, giving his side the lead.
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 1, 2021
However, the euphoria of a one-goal lead evaporated almost immediately. After getting caught out defensively again, LAFC found themselves on skates, as the Dynamo sent in a picture perfect cross into the box. Tyler Pasher, who made an excellent run, found the ball, put a toe on it, and equalized for Houston in the 57th minute. Any hopes that the match would then open up, died. The match continued much like the first half, with both sides just trying to find that final movement needed for more goals. It was not to be. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with LAFC remaining unbeaten, with a record of 1-0-2 for 2021.
Head Scratching Start
Calling Los Angeles the favorites coming into 2021, would be a massive understatement. The Club entered its fourth year as unanimous favorites to, at the very least, play in the MLS Cups Finals. However, we have yet to see that LAFC side. Instead, through three matches, we have seen an LAFC side still trying to find its footing. Speaking to media after the match, Head Coach Bob Bradley spoke on the team’s form this match. “Overall, it was a day where I didn’t think our football was as good as it needs to be.”
While the team has welcomed a few new faces at some key roles, this is still the same core squad from the 2019 record-breaking team. This is still the same group of men, that for some reason, have been playing like they don’t know each other as of late.
“We’re just missing that sharpness, timing, and in some cases running out of ideas” said Bradley of the match. While that was definitely the case yesterday, it has been the case for the entire start to the season. Even in the 2-0 win over expansion side, Austin FC, Los Angeles just felt, off. Granted, early drama with Carlos Vela could’ve thrown off the vibes, but even then, this team has looked lost as of late. Uncertainty seems to be creeping in. Whether its a lack of possession in the midfield, getting caught out defensively, or failing to finish in the final third, something with this club is just, off, right now.
Baird Scores Again
The lone bright spot of the match, was the 55th minute goal from Corey Baird. The goal marks his second of the season with his new club. While the team didn’t win, it was still a great moment for Baird, who says he still has room to grow. “Yeah, I got the goal but I thought I was pretty sloppy in possession. Some bad decision making, not as confident as I need to be, but I think I have a lot of room to grow.”
The RSL homegrown isn’t content with just scoring goals either. He has made it clear that he wants to be an important piece to the offense saying, “If the goals keep coming, great, but personally I think I need to pick it up.” In fairness, nobody expected Baird to come in and have to be the main offensive option through the first three matches.
The Last Word
The good news is, we are still extremely early into the season. However, this just feels different. Or perhaps, doesn’t feel like expected. Much of the narrative last year was LAFC not given the opportunity to have a fully healthy squad, dealing with injuries, and players opting out in the early days of Covid. This year was meant to be different. A fully healthy squad, new signings to provide improvements, and fans on the return. While the latter has been true, the season has begun much of the same. Questions about health, questions around the defense, and questions about just how good this side will be.
While the start of the season has been bad, it’s far from worse case scenario. There is still way too much time to worry. As we all know, it’s not where you start, but where you finish. LAFC can still finish as the best team in the league, once the rust is shaken off.