LAFC vs Houston Dynamo Predictions and Picks: First-Half Flurry Takes Place in Cali

LAFC are heavily favored to win tonight against the visiting Houston Dynamo, but our MLS picks are looking elsewhere for value. LAFC have been ferocious in the first half this season and fans should expect plenty of action in the first 45.

Dec 2, 2023 • 11:38 ET • 4 min read
Denis Bouanga LAFC MLS
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

LAFC have fallen short in two finals this season, but they’ll hope to reach a third when they host the Houston Dynamo in the last of the MLS semifinal matches on Saturday. MLS odds are backing the defending MLS Cup champions to do just that.

LAFC returned home from Seattle with a 1-0 win. Their victory came despite a 1.30-0.41 xG disadvantage as they held on against an onslaught over the final 20 minutes. Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga’s goal was the decider, and they’ll look to him to lead an attack that has scored five goals in their last two home fixtures.

For Houston, Saturday’s match is an opportunity to keep a Cinderella story going. A season after finishing second-last in the West, they’ve thrived under the leadership of Ben Olsen and haven’t trailed after 90 minutes in more than two months. Hector Herrera continues to pull the strings in midfield, and the 2023 US Open Cup champions will know they’re 90 minutes away from playing for another trophy.

My LAFC vs Houston Dynamo betting picks for Saturday, December 2 break down the match and explains why the first half should be quite entertaining — as well as profitable. 

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo best odds

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo picks and predictions

Only six teams in all of MLS had more first-half goals at home than LAFC during the regular season. Including the playoffs, they’ve scored before halftime in each of their last six matches. That includes last weekend when Denis Bouanga hit on the counter against the run of play to put his side ahead of Seattle.

Houston’s done them one better, having scored in seven straight matches before halftime. That includes away trips to Portland, Real Salt Lake, and Montreal. Last week, it was a headed goal off a corner as Franco Escobar buried the only score of the match. 

Despite both teams playing in fixtures that saw a solitary goal, I'm going to back this match to have at least one goal in the opening 45 minutes as my best bet on the Asian total market.

LAFC were fortunate not to be trailing after just five minutes against Seattle. Jordan Morris had a terrific opportunity on the break but was denied on an attempt that registered 0.61 xG and 0.66 xGOT. Maxime Crepeau came up big time and again on the night, keeping his side in front at halftime and full-time despite facing more than a full expected goal before the break.

Houston also should’ve seen more scoring in the first half, but it’s their fault they didn’t. Corey Baird should’ve done better just 10 minutes in, poorly finishing a chance from six yards out that was easily stopped despite having 0.48 xG for the attempt. They also gave up at least three solid chances in the opening stanza and got away without conceding. 

It was a 23rd-minute goal from Micael that put Houston in front 1-0 when they last visited BMO Stadium, a scoreline they’d hold until the final whistle. That came just five days after a 4-0 thrashing at home, in which they led 1-0 at the interval.

But if you look at those two fixtures, there were six first-half shots on target (two of which were blocked) in the match in Houston, and the return leg saw nine shots destined for goal. Six of those were blocked, and a 10th shot hit the frame of the goal, but the two teams were getting into dangerous areas.

LAFC have shown they can hurt teams through both slow build-up and on the break, while Houston’s been a force creating chances in half spaces as they’ve shown against LAFC in their two meetings this year. 

That means you’re not going to see a match where one team can stifle the other simply by playing a specific style. These are two good teams, led by two excellent managers, with creative-minded players who can pick out a pass.

Given how much both sides love coming out firing, I’ll be shocked if this one goes to the break scoreless. Take the Over 1.0 goals in the first half for -122 at TonyBet. A single goal returns your stake, while two or more puts profit in your pocket. 

My best bet: First half Over 1.0 goals (-122 at TonyBet)

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LAFC vs Houston Dynamo same-game parlay

Over 1.5 first-half goals

Denis Bouanga Over 2.5 shots

Denis Bouanga anytime goalscorer

Both teams to score: Yes

Since I can’t parlay an Asian total, I’ll take the higher-odds play and back multiple goals before halftime.

Bouanga has attempted at least three shots in his last eight starts, and he’s going to fire anytime he gets the chance. He’s also scored in eight consecutive matches for both club and country, with 12 goals in that span. I'm backing him to fire at least three shots with one of them finding the back of the net.

Finally, I'm backing both sides to bury one. Houston’s attack is set up to take advantage of LAFC’s weaknesses, while LAFC will rely on Bouanga and Vela to put away the chances that Sporting KC didn’t last week. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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LAFC vs Houston Dynamo side and Over/Under analysis

Since opening as heavy favorites on the 3-way line, LAFC have seen their price drop down from the -170 range closer to -155. Still, the team favored to win the whole competition is the clear choice on the line. 

The draw has also come down substantially — although you can still get it priced at +300 — while Houston’s price has moved up and is now available at +450.

Bouanga’s one goal shy of the club record for goals in a season, having scored 37 now across all competitions. He’s in white-hot form, and LAFC have been terrorizing teams at home. Six of their last 10 home matches in all competitions, dating back to August, have seen them score at least four goals. 

For all Houston’s done well this season, they’ve claimed just three wins away from home in MLS and drew 1-1 in their only playoff away fixture.

I see value on the Over for this match. Three or more goals is getting a price of +100 at DraftKings, which is understandable given the low-scoring matches last week across the league. But these two sides have lots of talent in attack and playmakers who can create.

LAFC were very fortunate not to concede a goal last week, as Seattle had two called back for offside. Houston will be thankful Sporting wasted numerous chances. The way these teams play each other is conducive to goals, another reason I’m backing multiple goals in the first half. 

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo game info

Location: BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Date: Saturday, December 2, 2023
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: Apple TV
Weather: 61 degrees F, 6 mph winds, POP: 0%, Humidity: 65%

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo key injuries

LAFC: No injuries to report.
Houston Dynamo: Ifunanyachi Achara F (Out), Tate Schmitt D (Out).

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