Dynamo FC season comes to an end with loss in Western Conference Final


Photo credit: Xavier Roslaes, SFL Staff Photographer

LOS ANGELES (Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023) – Houston Dynamo FC’s resurgent season came to an end tonight after falling on the road 2-0 to LAFC in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final.

Los Angeles opened scoring in the 45th minute after a corner delivery found the head of Giorgio Chiellini. Goalkeeper Steve Clark managed to stop the Italian international’s first shot, but Ryan Hollingshead managed to put the rebound in the back of the net.

Los Angeles doubled its lead in the 80th minute after a low cross from LAFC defender Diego Palacios found the back of the net off the foot of defender Franco Escobar.

Los Angeles captain Carlos Vela hit the cross bar in the opening minutes of the match following a turnover near midfield. The forward found space behind the Dynamo backline moments later, but he was ruled offside.

Dynamo captain Héctor Herrera played a ball into the box in the seventh minute that found forward Corey Baird for Houston’s first shot on target. LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau dove to the bottom corner to prevent the opening goal of the match. Herrera finished with four chances created in the match.

Clark was called into action in the 12th minute, making an instinctive save after Vela ran into the left side of the box to keep the match scoreless. The veteran goalkeeper ended the night with six saves.

Midfielder Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla took his chances from distance in the 24th minute, but his powerful shot was unable to beat goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.

An LAFC corner delivery found the head of Jesús Murillo in the 25th minute, but Clark was able to position himself in front of an awkward bounce to keep the ball out of the net.

In the 39th minute, forward Amine Bassi tried his chances from distance with a curling shot from outside the box, but Crépeau was able to track the ball and quell the danger.

Houston had the first chance of the second half, as defender Griffin Dorsey crossed a ball from the left side of the penalty box to the head of defender Micael, but the Brazilian could not get enough power behind the shot to challenge Crépeau.

Clark stepped up again in the 54th minute after Dénis Bouanga found himself with the ball near the left edge of the six-yard box and fired a tight angle shot at goal. Houston’s goalkeeper kept covered the angle and deflected the shot behind goal.

The veteran goalkeeper came to the rescue again in the 66th minute, making two back-to-back saves on shots from Vela and Bouanga.

Herrera took his chances from the top left corner of the penalty box in the 67th minute, but his attempt was met by the hands of Crépeau, who again corralled the danger.

The Dynamo were awarded a free kick in the 88th minute, and Herrera’s delivery eventually found the head of Escobar. The Argentinian’s attempt had to be headed away of the line by the LAFC defense.

Houston earned 51 points with a 14-11-9 (WLD) record over the course of a resurgent season, the most points since the Dynamo last made in the playoffs in 2017 (50 points). In addition to this Western Conference Final run, the Dynamo won their fourth domestic championship in September, defeating Inter Miami CF 2-1 to lift the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With the victory, Houston qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, which will mark the first time the team will compete in the regional tournament since 2019. In this summer’s Leagues Cup, Houston also qualified to the Round of 16, in which the Dynamo defeated perennial Mexican powers CF Pachuca and Santos Laguna. 

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