Jul 3, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas (9) reacts after his goal in stoppage time against the Los Angeles FC at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON – Fans had to wait 90 minutes to see the Houston Dynamo take on LAFC, but the announced 16,037 in attendance who weathered the 90-minute delay were treated to fireworks Tuesday, the eve of July 4 as Houston came back from two goals down to tie LAFC 2-2 in stoppage-time.
While it’s only one point, the draw feels like a win to the Dynamo (6-6-4, 22 points).
“Today, we came from 2-0 to 2-2 which it feels like winning, why, because when you are losing 2-0, and you come back in the last five minutes of extra time, you have to be feeling good, and you have the fans and all of us feeling like it is also a win,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said.
“We might not have gotten the three points, we just got one, but this one point could be the turning point for us, and we believe in that.”
The comeback started with Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas in the 93rd minute. The Colombian received a long pass over the top from DaMarcus Beasley and rushed towards goal. LAFC defender Laurent Ciman stepped up but Manotas nutmegged him for the second time in the game and blew past him to get in a 1v1 with LAFC ‘keeper Tyler Miller.
Manotas slotted his shot past Miller and quickly took the ball out of the back of the net and on to the center circle to restart the game.
A couple of minutes later, it was Philippe Senderos’ turn.
With time ticking away, Houston managed to win a corner in the 95th minute. Romell Quioto stepped up to take it and whipped it in. Alberth Elis rose up to meet it but his header went sideways and fell to Senderos. The Swiss one-timed a left footed shot on goal that ricochets off Mark-Anthony Kaye and into the back of the net for the game’s tying goal and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
“The response from the players, they were attacking, we never gave up, we were looking from right, left, (forwards) Romell was insisting, Alberth, Mauro, also the centerbacks and Phillippe was in every set pieces, in every corner, he was trying, he was trying,” Cabrera said.
“So, the whole team was in, with a good mentality. Fighting and trying to fight. When we could score the goal, Mauro had a very good attitude to quickly grab the ball and to put the ball and show that we continue believing.”
The Dynamo were minutes from dropping points at home for only the second time this season and from the start of the game, no one could have predicted the wild finish that laid ahead.
After turbulent weather pushed back the kickoff, Los Angeles FC wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead. In doing so, LAFC (9-4-4, 31 points) turned the tables on Houston, which often this season has jumped out to a fast lead.
LAFC forward Adama Diomande, who’s been on a scoring tear for LAFC, played the role of set-up man this time and nabbed his first assist. Diomande received a pass at the top of the box and did a full 180-degree turn to send a through-ball to Latif Blessing, who was cutting in from the left wing. Blessing one-timed a shot with his right foot and sent the ball past the outstretched hands of Dynamo ‘keeper Joe Willis, giving his team the lead.
And LAFC kept the pressure on after the score. Minutes later, midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye let a shot rip from 30 yards. It flew just wide right of the post.
In the game’s first 10 minutes, LAFC was clearly in control. Houston had trouble keeping up with LAFC’s quick ball movement.
The Dynamo settled into the game and found Quioto on the left wing on a couple of occasions, but the Orange couldn’t muster a single dangerous scoring opportunity. Houston’s lone shot in the first half was a long-distance effort from Tomas Martinez in the 19th minute — not on target.
Houston tried to make up for its lackluster first-half performance five minutes into the second half.
Manotas set off on a one-man run towards goal in the 50th minute. He nutmegged Ciman before unleashing a shot on goal and forcing LAFC ‘keeper Tyler Miller to make a save.
But as much as the Dynamo pressured to equalize the game, they couldn’t break through. And LAFC made things more difficult in the 71st.
LAFC centerback Walker Zimmerman won a 50/50 ball and launched it forward. Kaye then headed the ball toward Diomande, who played a one-time pass back to Kaye. The midfielder then beat Dynamo centerback Philippe Senderos and tucked the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 LAFC lead.
Carrying a two-goal lead into the 90th minutes, LAFC had the three points in the bag. The three points would have also placed them atop the Western Conference Standings.
“Late in the game, it’s desperation time, our ability to still connect a few more passes and manage the situation, because any ball that turns over they’re just going to play along and try to turn it into a chance or set piece,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said on what happened in the last five minutes of the game.
“I thought overall good efforts, but we got sloppy and a little careless at the end and paid for it.”
LAFC’s loss is Houston’s gain and the draw could prove to be a catalyst as the Orange make a push to get into the playoffs position in a tough Western Conference.