Los Angeles Football Club forward Dénis Bouanga was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 36 of the 2023 MLS season.
Bouanga recorded a hat trick in LAFC’s 5-1 victory over Minnesota United FC at BMO Stadium on Wednesday, October 4, which clinched the club’s berth in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Bouanga scored all three of his goals in the first half, becoming the first player in club history to produce a hat trick in the opening 45 minutes of an MLS regular-season match. With his performance, Bouanga jumped into the lead of the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi standings with 17 goals, one ahead of FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta (16). His 17 goals are also the second-most in a single season in club history, trailing only Carlos Vela’s 34 during his MVP-winning season in 2019. By clinching a berth in the postseason, LAFC will look to become the fourth team in league history to win consecutive MLS Cups, and the first since the LA Galaxy in 2011-12.
After Minnesota scored the opening goal, LAFC equalized in the sixth minute as Bouanga gathered the ball in the 18-yard box, took one touch, and unleashed a volley past Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (Watch Here). The Gabonese international made it 2-1 in the 36th minute, as Diego Palacios picked out the forward and he provided another clinical volleyed strike to take the lead (Watch Here). Bouanga completed his first-half hat trick in stoppage time when he dribbled past a Minnesota defender and rifled a shot into the net from a tight angle.
Bouanga has earned his second MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire honor this season, becoming the sixth player in 2023 to do so. Bouanga is the third LAFC player to be named Player of the Matchday multiple times in the same season, joining Cristian Arango (two in 2021) and Carlos Vela (six in 2019).
LAFC will look to solidify home-field advantage in the Round One Best-of-3 series when they travel to face Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Matchday 37 on Saturday, October 7 (5:30 p.m. PST, MLS Season Pass).
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.