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LAFC victory over Dynamo has some postseason implications

Adama Diomande ran to the stands behind the goal and leaped, relishing a crowd in celebration.

Carlos Vela had launched a diagonal pass to Diamonde directly in front of the goal; Diamonde fired a shot to finish the score. He had given the Los Angeles Football Club a 2-1 lead over the Houston Dynamo at Banc of California Stadium.

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After a series of missed chances, LAFC finally pulled ahead of the Dynamo with Diomande’s score in the 53rd minute, a lead it extended with two more goals.

LAFC may have already secured a spot in the playoffs, but its 4-2 victory over the Dynamo still carried important postseason implications.

Since LAFC is 9-1-6 at home but 7-7-2 on the road, starting the playoffs at home is essential to giving the team a shot at a long postseason run. To accomplish that, LAFC, which is in second place with 56 points, must earn a ranking of fourth or higher.

"We still have to go next level, next step,” Vela said. “That was finish first in the conference, so we are working on that."

With the playoffs in sight, Los Angeles is hitting its stride, winning seven of eight games since Aug. 11 before facing the Dynamo, earning the best winning percentage by an expansion team and becoming MLS’s fifth team to reach the postseason in its inaugural year.

That aggression continued Friday.

LAFC pressured the Dynamo early. The team recorded three shots in the first 15 minutes while holding the Dynamo to no shots. LAFC also dominated possession in that time frame.

But Houston broke through first. After LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller failed to secure a blocked shot, Houston forward Mauro Manotas booted the ball low and fast to the back of the net, giving the Dynamo a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute.

After a flash of lightning, the field emptied in the 35th minute as the game was delayed because of severe weather.

At the delay, LAFC outshot the Dynamo 5-1, completed 81 more passes and took 60.4% possession to Houston’s 39.6%, despite trailing by a goal.

Once play resumed after the 104-minute delay, Vela struck back.

Tripped up by Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who was issued a yellow card, Vela lined up for his penalty kick, then rocketed a shot to the lower right corner of the field for a goal, tying the Dynamo 1-1 in the 44th minute with his 12th goal of the season.

Vela added his 13th goal in the 78th minute, after Walker Zimmerman scored on a Vela corner kick.

"After the break, Carlos picked it up another notch. That was so important for us," coach Bob Bradley said.

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Said Vela: "I think the storm helped me a little bit."

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