LAFC 2-0 Houston Dynamo: Player ratings as the Black and Gold return to MLS Cup final

  • Ryan Hollingshead opened the scoring
  • Franco Escobar's own goal sealed the win for the Black and Gold
  • LAFC and Columbus Crew clash on December 9 in MLS Cup final

LAFC advance to MLS Cup final
LAFC advance to MLS Cup final / Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The reigning MLS Cup champions LAFC triumphed 2-0 over Houston Dynamo to reach MLS Cup final for the second consecutive season.

The Eastern Conference side of the playoff picture was done and dusted after Columbus Crew punched their ticket to MLS Cup final, leaving the Black and Gold and Houston to face off to determine who traveled to Field.

MLS icon Carlos Vela failed to put away a golden chance early on, as Tim Tillman played the number 10 through on goal before he smacked the cross bar with his right-footed effort. But just as it seemed like we were going to see a scoreless first half, the reigning MLS Cup champions found the breakthrough. Center-back Giorgio Chiellini headed an effort on target via corner kick as Houston's Steve Clark spilled the ball into a dangerous area.

Full-back Ryan Hollingshead reacted quick enough to poke the ball away from Clark's grasp and slot it home to put LAFC up 1-0 at the break. With a narrow lead after 45 minutes played Houston still remained very much in the game.

The Dynamo weren't really able to get much going in the second half, until the lone goal scorer from the conference semifinals, Franco Escobar, was on the scoresheet again -- but this time for LAFC. A cross from Diego Palacios was turned into an own goal by Escobar, leaving the player visibly upset.

Despite best efforts, LAFC controlled the majority of the match in the final third to secure their spot in the MLS Cup final. Now, LAFC are one step closer to defending their 2022 title.

LAFC player ratings ( 4-3-3 )

Hollingshead was on the scoresheet for LAFC
Hollingshead was on the scoresheet for LAFC / Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

GK: Maxime Crepeau - 6.5/10 - Came up huge for a save early on against Baird. Didn't have much to do, especially in the second half thanks to his team's excellent defending.

RB: Ryan Hollingshead - 8/10 - Started brightly and was in the right place at the right time to put his team up in the first half.

CB: Jesus Murillo - 7/10 - Got better as the game wore on and didn't put a foot wrong.

CB: Giorgio Chiellini - 7.5/10 - A dominant showing from the veteran defender.

LB: Diego Palacios - 7.5/10 - A constant threat down the left-wing and made his mark by assisting the goal that sealed the win.

CM: Tim Tillman - 7/10 - His pin-point accurate pass put Vela through on goal but it didn't end up as an assist.

CM: Ilie Sanchez - 6.5/10 - Kept his side rolling by recycling play and spray passes to the forwards.

CM: Kellyn Acosta - 7/10 - A professional performance from the USMNT figure, composed on the ball and winning it back time and time again.

RW: Cristian Olivera - 6/10 - A rather disappointing night from the young Uruguay international.

ST: Carlos Vela - 6.5/10 - Improved as the game wore on after rattling the crossbar early on.

LW: Denis Bouanga - 7/10 - Went on a few blistering runs down the left-wing but couldn't put his chances away. Had a much improved second half, though.


SUB: Mateusz Bogusz (77' for Vela) - 6/10 - Came on and managed the game well.

SUB: Aaron Long (90' for Olivera) - N/A

SUB: Sergi Palencia (90' for Tillman) - N/A


Steve Cherundolo - 9/10 - His starting XI worked to near perfection to clinch a second consecutive place in MLS Cup final. Could his team really go back-to-back?

Houston Dynamo player ratings ( 4-2-3-1 )

, Corey Baird
Baird struggled in front of goal / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

GK: Steve Clark - 5/10 - Kept the defending champs out as long as he could, and maybe should've done better with handling the opening goal.

RB: Griffin Dorsey - 7/10 - Continued to make several threatening runs while also holding up against Bouanga well. Made an excellent challenge late on to keep the score respectable.

CB: Erik Sviatchenko - 6/10 - The player neither helped nor hindered his side.

CB: Micael - 6.5/10 - He kept things in check in the backline and was unfortunate to be taken off due to injury.

LB: Franco Escobar - 5.5/10 - Fine defensively, just didn't help out that much in attack. Unfortunate to turn the ball in his own net while trying to keep it out.

DM: Artur - 7/10 - Was the second-best player on the pitch behind of Hollingshead, doing what he does best in the middle of the park for Houston.

DM: Hector Herrera - 7/10 - Outside of his careless turnover that almost led to a LAFC chance, he was solid and reliable.

RM: Adalberto Carrasquilla - 6.5/10 - An overall lackluster performance from the versatile player. Just wasn't able to provide much from the right-wing.

AM: Amine Bassi - 6/10 - Had a few nice moments and passes in the first half, but completely ghosted in the second 45.

LM: Nelson Quinones - 6/10 - His decision making could've been better in the final third/penalty area.

ST: Corey Baird - 5.5/10 - Unable to provide any impact as he was isolated for most of the game.


SUB: Ibrahim Aliyu (57' for Baird) - 6/10 - Encountered the same problems as Baird receiving no service up front.

SUB: Teenage Lingani Hadebe (61' for Micael) - 6.5/10 - Did well given the circumstances at the back.

SUB: Thor Ulfarsson (77' for Bassi) - 6/10 - Didn't bring the needed impact off the bench.

SUB: Brad Smith (77' for Quinones) - 6/10 - See Bassi's rating.

SUB: Sebastian Kowalczyk (86' for Carrasquilla) - N/A


Ben Olsen - 7/10 - His strongest starting lineup just didn't create enough chances and weren't clinical enough against the Black and Gold. However, it was a great first season in charge of the Dynamo and they'll be back in the postseason in 2024.

Player of the match - Ryan Hollingshead (LAFC)

Sign up now for MLS Season Pass on Apple TV to watch all the action from the 2023 Major League Soccer season. Click here to subscribe!