LAFC Beats Houston Dynamo 3–1 on Vela’s Penalty Kicks

By Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
September 19, 2022 Updated: September 19, 2022

LOS ANGELES—Carlos Vela converted two penalty kicks in Los Angeles FC’s (20–8–4, 64 points) 3–1 victory at home over the Houston Dynamo (9–17–6, 33 points) on Sunday night, Sept. 18.

Ryan Hollingshead added his sixth goal of the season in the second half to seal the win and tie the Eastern Conference’s Philadelphia Union in the battle for the Supporters’ Shield for the best regular season record in the MLS.

“This group is special. Not just on the field, it’s in the locker room [and] at the training facility,” said Hollingshead. “It’s the most fun I’ve had playing football in a really long time.”

LAFC is 13–1–2 at Banc of California Stadium this season, and had clinched the Western Conference title prior to the match for the second time in LAFC’s five seasons—and secured a spot for CONCACAF Champions League.

Los Angeles will host all of their Western Conference matches in the post-season, and will lock up the Supporters’ Shield if victorious in the final two matches.

LAFC coach, Steve Cherundolo, is currently tied with two others in MLS history for the most regular season victories at 20, for a first-year head coach, and is one shy of the club record.

The Dynamo is 1–1–1 under interim coach Kenny Bundy—having replaced Paulo Nagamura.

Time of possession was equal, but LAFC dominated with 19 shots, seven on goal, to Houston’s 10 shots, with only one on goal.

LAFC’s goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau didn’t need to make a save for the win, while Steve Clark had four saves for Houston.

In the eighth minute, LAFC was awarded its first penalty when Houston’s Griffin Dorsey dragged down Denis Bouanga, as Bouanga skillfully dribbled past the defender in the box.

Vela patiently waited for Clark to dive right before stroking a low left-footer into the left corner of the goal.

Houston would level the match in the 24th minute, when Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla sent a perfect long-ball to former LAFC forward Corey Baird at the top of the box for his second goal of the season.

Baird controlled the pass perfectly in stride and pushed a right-footed dribbler past the out-coming Crepeau from nearly 12 yards away from goal.

Houston’s Fafa Picault handball gave Vela another penalty kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the first half.

This time not waiting for Clark, Vela punched another low shot into the left corner for his 11th goal of the season.

In the 52nd minute, Hollingshead tied his career-high sixth goal of the season when Bouanga’s blocked shot rebounded to him on the right side.

Hollingshead dribbled past an oncoming defender to blast a shot into the top of the net, past Clark from beyond the right corner of the six-yard box, for a 3–1 final.

The Dynamo continued to compete as they wanted to impress the club for contracts and positions for next year. Memo Rodriguez came close to a goal in the 75th minute, hitting the crossbar.

Eleven LAFC players have been called-up by their National Teams in preparation for the 2022 World Cup beginning in late November.

Six players will play in final tune up matches, including Crepeau (Canada), Kellyn Acosta (USA), Gareth Bale (Wales), and Sebastian Mendez, Diego Palacios, and Jose Cifuentes for Ecuador.

LAFC will play next on Sunday, Oct. 2, at noon for its final regular season away match against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park.

Nhat Hoang