The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) made their return in the #MLSisBack tournament after a four-month stoppage due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Whether it was rust or an off night LAFC rightly did not look themselves for 45 minutes and then made a comeback to finish the night ties with the Houston Dynamo 3-3.
The team’s play wasn’t the only thing that looked different, Mark-Anthony Kaye had the captain’s armband and Bradley Wright-Phillips was part of the front three. Carlos Vela who had opted out of the tournament was absent from the team.
Perhaps due to the absence of Vela, LAFC played early on by playing the long overhead pass instead of trying to find space on the wings, defensively the backline held their own as the Dynamo tried to use the counter to catch them flat-footed.
For nine minutes the teams went back and forth and then the dam broke, the Dynamo scored first when Memo Rodriguez made a move on an LAFC defender and then tucked in a long shot past LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
Ten minutes later Wright-Phillips scored his first MLS goal in a year putting his foot on a pass through the box that beat the Dynamo and leveled the score. Rodriguez made it two on the night when he beat a defender into a floated pass in the box and put in a rebound when Vermeer made a save on the first shot.
At the halftime whistle, all looked lost when Alberth Ellis put in a header off a free-kick to put the Dynamo up 3-1 and LAFC in a big hole.
In the second half, LAFC re-asserted itself on offense and began to put the pressure back on the Dynamo. They were rewarded in the 63rd minute when Diego Rossi scored to trim the Dynamo lead, six minutes later the game was tied again when Brian Rodriguez scored his first goal in an LAFC uniform both goals coming from shots on the wing.
No more goals would be scored and the game ended with one point for both teams in the tournament and the most thrilling game of the restart so far.
Even though they looked sloppy at times and their backline was suspect by the end of the game LAFC had carried the possession 78% to 22% and put more shots on goal (6) both signature traits to their game.
After the game LAFC coach Bob Bradley praised his team’s ability to come back:
“I thought we were able to push the game in the second half, and that’s a credit to the work the guys have put in.”
Now that LAFC has gotten their feet wet they will continue their restart with a game against their rivals the LA Galaxy on Saturday night. The team will have to shore up some things, but no one doubts it will be entertaining.