LAFC hopes Diego Rossi returns just in time for Houston – Daily Bulletin

Week three of the Major League Soccer season was pegged as an unusually significant road date for the Los Angeles Football Club.

Following a pair of matches at home, the calendar placed LAFC in Houston on May 1 with a spot in the U.S. Open Cup tournament hanging in the balance.

But after U.S. Soccer officials postponed the spring tournament, placing inside the top eight teams in total points following three matches only signifies what it usually does this time of year: a solid start.

Raised stakes may no longer apply, yet if it happened as originally planned the Saturday afternoon contest at BBVA Stadium would have been fitting for both sides.

In seven meetings between the Western Conference foes, Houston won once, an epic US Open Cup semifinal in 2018 that was decided on a penalty kick shootout in Texas.

LAFC (1-0-1, 4 points) owns the high-scoring regular-season series so far, taking two draws and four wins – including the 2019 Supporters’ Shield clincher in L.A.

A year after winning its lone trophy and leading the MLS with eight road victories, the Black & Gold finished 2020 with a disappointing 1-1-6 away record.

Houston, the first of three straight travel dates for LAFC, captured its season opener at home against San Jose and dropped three points in Portland last week.

The Dynamo added speed and skill on both flanks and has used it early in the season, noted LAFC head coach Bob Bradley, in its attack and trying to win the ball by pressing in certain moments.

“They’ve really moved along since last year,” Bradley said of the Tab Ramos-coached Dynamo.

The teams combined for 33 goals in seven matches, and LAFC forward Diego Rossi is responsible for seven of them.

The 23-year-old No. 9 missed the first two matches of the new season due to a left hamstring strain. Having practiced in full this week, Rossi should earn his first appearance of 2021 against a team he feasts on.

“You can see in the training this week that he’s missed being on the field,” Bradley said regarding Major League Soccer’s leading goal scorer from 2020, who netted four goals in his last four matches against Houston and an impressive hat trick during the 2018 Open Cup semifinal.

The Uruguayan’s partner in crime, 2019 MLS MVP and record-setting goal scorer Carlos Vela, remained limited in training since departing the field 22 minutes into the club’s opener against Austin FC with a quad injury.

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