Los Angeles FC hosts the Houston Dynamo in the Conference Finals of the West. A Cup Final appearance is at stake. The reigning champs LAFC have a chance for back to back showings at the top stage in MLS. Houston would be making their first appearance in over a decade if they can knock off LAFC on the road. Read on to access an expert LAFC vs Houston Dynamo prediction and explore the latest news on the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Los Angeles FC vs Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup Conference Finals
- December 2, 2023
- 9:30 PM EST
- BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, California
- Apple TV – MLS Season Pass
LAFC vs Houston Dynamo Betting Odds
The 2022 MLS Cup champions are the favorites to win this match at BMO Stadium, with a (-152) price tag attached to LAFC at highly-rated online sportsbook BetOnline. Savvy underdog bettors can latch onto Houston and earn a payout as high as (+428) if they complete the upset. A draw in 90 minutes would result in extra time and cash out at a line of (+312), good for an implied probability of 24.3%.
2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Format and Schedule
Following Round One, the tournament transitions to a familiar format reminiscent of the FIFA World Cup. Matches extend for 90 minutes plus stoppage time, followed by two 15-minute extra time periods if necessary before a potential penalty shootout. There won’t be two-leg ties; it’s solely about winner-takes-all scenarios, favoring the higher-seeded team with venue advantage throughout, culminating in the Final.
A successful playoff journey hinges on a sturdy defense, a formidable home record, and an attacking line adept at consistent goal-scoring. Luck wields considerable influence in the MLS Cup, compressing an entire season into decisive winner-takes-all encounters. Variability in finishing prowess is expected, yet a high volume of shots often becomes the catalyst in overturning fortunes during an intense playoff battle.
Houston Dynamo: Season and Squad Breakdown
After last year’s 13th-placed finish, not many would have pegged Houston to be one of the final four teams standing in the MLS Cup playoffs. But a turnaround, accompanied by 17 new signings, has brought Houston out of the woodworks and into the shining lights of Los Angeles for a chance at a Cup Final.
Veteran Franco Escobar will look to capitalize on familiarity with the opponent, as he hoisted his 2nd MLS Cup with LAFC last year. I would be remiss if I did not mention Hector Herrera. Houston wouldn’t be in their first Western Conference Final since 2017 without consistently strong performances from the Mexican international, whose central midfield role has been critical to the Dynamo attack. A victory for Houston would clinch their first MLS Cup appearance since 2012.
A New Star to Shine in Hollywood
Gareth Bale now enjoys a tranquil home life, surely enjoying his beloved golf and Wales national team. But Los Angeles FC persists in their winning momentum, thriving without the Welshman’s presence. Carlos Vela retains the No. 10 shirt, yet a fresh superstar, the Gabonese sensation Dénis Bouanga, has emerged.
Bouanga’s remarkable performance includes 20 goals throughout the regular season, further enhanced by an additional 4 goals in LAFC’s three crucial playoff matches. His goal against Seattle proved to be the game-winner as the lone finish in the match. Notably, he has scored in each of his last 8 matches for club and country. His 20 goals were also good for this year’s Golden Boot trophy.
In LAFC’s matchup against Houston, there is a key advantage for Bouanga. Houston’s tactical setup mirrors the same transition pattern from defense to attack as the Sounders. Under Ben Olsen, the team maneuvers right back Griffin Dorsey forward to the right wing while moving center back Erik Sviatchenko outward to assume the role of the right-sided center back within a three-man defensive line. Therefore, the identical gap that Bouanga effectively exploited at Lumen Field is likely to persist on home turf.
LAFC vs Houston Dynamo Prediction and Free Betting Pick
LAFC has been dominant at BMO Stadium, but Houston has looked strong as of late.
Once again, I think Bouanga will emerge as a game-changer. His knack for seizing a single opportunity and converting it will make the difference. Despite Houston enjoying more ball possession and crafting several chances, LAFC’s resilient defense will stand firm. Bouanga’s decisive goal is likely to come through a well-executed counter-attack.
Additionally, Houston has been poor on the road this season. We may still also be enjoying some market value on LAFC, who got the job done in Seattle last time out but did not look too deserving of such a result. The Sounders looked like the favorites for much of the match, but the final score did not reflect their performance.
Again, just like I have advocated for in all MLS betting articles, a conservative approach is best in this match. The MLS is volatile and often difficult to predict. Stick with a smaller unit size than you may typically lay, but trust in LAFC to reach the Cup Final.
Top Sportsbooks to Bet on the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs
Explore some of the best sportsbooks for online betting below. Each website is reviewed by MyTopSportsbooks for user experience, customer service, new member promos, and more.