During the 2018 MLS season, whenever Adama Diomande scored once, it seemed almost certain the LAFC forward would score again.
It hasn't been the same this season. Until Friday night.
With many of his teammates given the night off following a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat less than 48 hours earlier, Diomande struck on a header moments before halftime. Then he added a goal with his feet shortly after the break to give LAFC a 2-1 lead over the Houston Dynamo, en route to a 3-1 win.
The brace — Diomande's fifth and sixth MLS goals this season — marks his first multi-goal performance of 2019 after scoring multiple goals in four league games a season ago.
And it came at the pefect time, with coach Bob Bradley making nine changes to his starting XI following Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers in the USOC quarters.
Head coach Bob Bradley praised his entire side after the game, but singled out some praise for the striker who kickstarted the rally.
"It was a big game for Dio to score some goals, so again it just was a team effort," he told reporters after the game.
For Diomande, looking to get back to matching the 12 goals he scored in league play last year, Friday's performance was a step to get him back to top form.
“It’s always confidence for a striker to score goals," the Norwegian said. "I’m starting to come back in form. I’ve been out for a while with injuries and starting to build confidence back now. [It’s] my first night with minutes in a long time, and [I’m] just starting to get the groove back and be a better player that I’m used to.”