So. Yeah. The reigning Supporters’ Shield winners just gave up three goals to Houston only to come back from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw anddddd ... no one in the entire world is surprised. LAFC is your neighbor who keeps shooting off fireworks. The first time they blew off their finger was interesting, sure, but by the third time they explode their bionic hand, you’re not even going to check on them because you know they’ll just order a new one from Amazon. It will be there in the morning.
What made this one interesting though, is that normally Bob Bradley and company drag everyone to their level. The other team may think they’re going to dig in and muddy things up but LAFC imposes their will and lets the other team know quickly that they’re along for the ride on this lawn chair that they’ve attached homemade rockets to whether they like it or not. Sometimes that even means the other team gets to score a bit too. Just to make it fun.
But tonight, Houston decided their best chance was to bring their own rocket chair and hope for the best. And it worked. They showed no restraint at the beginning and let the absurdly electric front three of Darwin Quintero, Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis do work. Memo Rodriguez fired a first-half brace and cooked as well. They got their punches in early and then held on for dear life and earned a point. I can’t describe how much I respect it except to say that I can’t describe it. Rodriguez took a shot at it though.
“Our team’s intensity was really well matched with LAFC,” Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, we gave up two goals in the second half, but we played 50-50 with them and I think it shows that we can play with anybody in this league.“
I really hope he’s right about that because when Houston is firing, they’re an almost overwhelming amount of fun.
For LAFC it confirmed a couple of things we assumed but needed another data point on. The first is that they’re gonna be just fine finding the net without Carlos Vela. You could really say that it might have ended 5-3 with Vela instead of 3-3, but every team in the league is going to take three goals.
The second is that LAFC still hasn’t quite figured out things at the back. Even with Walker Zimmerman, there were moments where the LAFC rocket to the stars started to feel shaky last season. Without the now-Nashville SC defender, that’s now two — admittedly very spaced out — games in a row where they’ve given up three goals. For this team, that isn’t necessarily a problem in the long term. But after two years and no non-regular season trophies, you kind of start to wonder if it’s any way to live in a tournament format.
I mean you could wonder that, or you could respect Bob Bradley as an artist and let him speak his truth. Stop being such a narc.
“We're not happy when we have games where we make three or four bad decisions, bad plays and every ball turns up in the net,” Bradley said. “But this is part of the process. If you want to be a team that plays up the field, then you have to have the courage to defend high.”
See. This is about the courage to let your life be consumed by chaos and then attempting to thrive in it. Both teams had that courage tonight. And we’re all better for it.