Houston Dynamo Face LAFC to Open Group F in MLS Is Back Tournament
HOUSTON - The Houston Dynamo return to competitive action for the first time since March 7 on Monday when they face the reigning MLS Supporter's Shield winners, Los Angeles Football Club, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 7 p.m. CDT on FS1.
This is the first match for the Dynamo in the MLS is Back Tournament. Group matches will count in the regular season standings. For additional information on the tournament format, including the competition guidelines, click here.
The Dynamo aim for their first victory in the regular season series against LAFC and aim to snap a three-game losing streak in league play. This is only the fifth meeting between both clubs since LAFC joined Major League Soccer in 2018. The Dynamo and LAFC played to a 2-2 draw in the inaugural contest that featured a goal from Colombian forward Mauro Manotas and an assist from Alberth Elis in stoppage time to secure a point at BBVA Stadium.
The Dynamo would split the series across all competitions in 2018 with a victory in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Houston defeated LAFC in a penalty kick shootout, leading to the first USOC title in club history.
Manotas has found the back of the net in three matches against the Black and Gold with an assist to his name in all competitions. Houston will also look to Elis, Boniek Garcia and Tomas Martinez who combine for four assists against the 2019 MLS Supporter's Shield winners. They Dynamo will feature a healthy Darwin Quintero who made his Dynamo debut in Kansas City on March 7. Additionally, the Dynamo will have defenders Jose Bizama, Victor Cabrera and Kiki Struna available after missing time due to injury. The Dynamo will also feature an additional Academy product in the MLS is Back Tournament roster after the club signed Nico Lemoine on June 11 to add depth to the frontline.
This is the first meeting between Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos and LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. Bradley returned to MLS in the summer of 2017 to take the helm at LAFC as the first manager in club history. Since then, the Black and Gold have claimed 133 points, tied for the most points earned during the last two seasons with Atlanta United FC. LAFC claimed the Supporter's Shield last season but fell to the eventual MLS Cup champions, Seattle Sounders FC, in the 2019 Western Conference Final.
Houston will return to action on Saturday when they face the Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. CDT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
WHO: Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC
WHEN: Monday, July 13 - 7:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FS1 (John Strong and Stuart Holden) and TUDN
RADIO: TUDN Radio Houston 1010 AM (Daniel Mejia and Lester Gretsch)
Here are three key points ahead of Monday's game:
GROUP OF DEATH - The Dynamo were drawn into Group F with LAFC, LA Galaxy and the Portland Timbers on June 10. Pundits, fans and the majority of the MLS community immediately dubbed Group F as the "group of death" due to the eight MLS Cups won amongst the four teams and the 18 postseason campaigns across the group since 2011. Group F has earned a spot in the MLS Cup final in three of the last six seasons, claiming the title twice. Houston claimed the U.S. Open Cup during this stretch and hopes to return to international competition by advancing from this group to the knockout rounds.
MANOTAS ON VERGE OF MILESTONE -- Manotas can reach 50 goals with the Dynamo in league play with his next tally. The Colombian forward found the back of the net in the opening game of the 2020 MLS regular season, a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, at a sold-out BBVA Stadium on Feb. 29. Manotas' path to 50 goals includes three consecutive seasons with 10 or more goals per year, a club record. Manotas has expanded his arsenal and set a new career high for assists in a season with eight in 2019. The Colombian forward will be key for the Dynamo who face some of the most dynamic front lines in MLS during the MLS is Back Tournament in Central Florida.
LAFC TO PLAY WITHOUT VELA - The 2019 MLS Most Valuable Player, Carlos Vela, will not join LAFC in Central Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament. The Mexican forward remained in California for the birth of his second child. The Black and Gold still feature a formidable front line with forwards like Diego Rossi, Adama Diomande and two-time MLS Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips joined LAFC in February as a free agent and brings more than 105 goals to the table after a seven-year run with the New York Red Bulls.
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