Post-Portland Progressions 

A still-building LAFC moves on after earning its first road point of the season in one of MLS’ most difficult venues

LAFC Mati Bogusz POR 04132024

“‘A point on the road and winning at home’ is a recipe for success in MLS; in any league,” Steve Cherundolo said after his team’s 2-2 draw in Portland on Saturday. “I think after watching the game we'll be disappointed not to get three points, but you can never be disappointed with a point on the road, especially in Portland. It's always tough here.”

Draw on the road, win at home. It’s not the most entertaining quote in the world, but it’s a valuable brick in the legacy of success LAFC has built in its six seasons in Major League Soccer, a league that was founded on and is still loyal to the idea of parity – where every franchise is competitive, with no “easy wins” on the schedule, and certainly no easy road wins. In the league with the longest travel distances in the world, draws away from home are valuable.

Road results have certainly meant a lot to LAFC’s runs to the last two MLS Cup finals.

In its 2022 championship season, the Black & Gold lost just seven of 17 road matches, going 8W-7L-2T away from home. No team had more road wins. 

LAFC played the busiest schedule in MLS history in 2023 (53 matches across all competitions), amassing a regular-season road record of 4W-6L-7T. No Western Conference team had more away draws than LAFC in 2023, which doesn’t seem impressive until you remember that LAFC played two-thirds of its games on two or three days’ rest – and lost fewer MLS road matches than it had in its championship season. 

Combine that with the home vibe at BMO Stadium, which visiting players find more difficult to play in than any other, and you get a team in its second straight Cup final.

It's why Timmy Tillman said after the Portland match: “Of course, we wanted to get the three points, especially after the red card [given to Portland] … The second half we tried to get the three points. But we are also – not happy – but we can live with the one point here.”

With an away mark of 0W-3L-1T so far in 2024 (0.25 pts. per game), Cherundolo’s recipe for success is still simmering. LAFC’s next road match in two weeks (on May 4 in San Jose) will be the first in a stretch where LAFC plays three of four on the road. 

Following a winter of unprecedented roster turnover, Cherundolo called Saturday’s draw in Portland “a step in the right direction … It's a small step, but a necessary step and we will complete that progression in a couple of weeks.”

LAFC Ilie Sanchez Steve Cherundolo POR 04132024


At the 29-minute mark, LAFC defender Sergi Palencia sent an audacious cross from the right wing toward his former AS Saint-Étienne teammate, Denis Bouanga. Or rather, he sent it to where he knew Bouanga was headed. It was a play reminiscent of two assists Palencia collected in 2023, the unforgettable last-minute stunner in León, and the tap-in of the year in LAFC’s home win over Austin. 

Bouanga, moving without the ball, hit the jets and knifed in front of Timbers right back Juan Mosquera to get his right boot on Palencia’s cross – resulting in a point-blank shot that Max Crépeau would have been severely tested by had it been on target. It was not. The audible groan of agony Bouanga emitted when it went over the bar told the story of the man who leads MLS in near misses and goal frames struck in 2024. While the reigning Golden Boot winner did not score against the Timbers, he played a direct hand in both of LAFC’s goals.

In the 21st minute, Bouanga’s subtle movement pulled Timbers center back Miguel Araujo out of position and emptied a green patch of turf that Timmy Tillman sent Mateusz Bogusz into. “I just saw the gap in the defense,” Tillman said, “a lot of space around Mati, so I just sent him into space and then he scored it.”

The 47th-minute foul that Bouanga drew from Timbers keeper Maxime Crépeau not only set up Bogusz’s free-kick equalizer, it drew a red card that sent Crepeau off and put the Black & Gold in prime position to collect that invaluable road point.

LAFC Bouanga Crepeau POR 04132024

Finally, Bouanga’s close-range cross in the third minute of added time (90’ + 3) might have won the game had Kei Kamara’s sliding toe poke snuck inside the post. 

Even if the goals haven’t arrived yet for the man who has found the net 43 times and won two Golden Boots over the last 13 months, Bouanga has looked as fast, fit, and frightening as ever.


Through eight games, the Black & Gold has served notice that while its distinctive, always-attacking style continues to produce quality chances (LAFC ranks first in expected goals per 90 minutes, according to FBREF), it is committed to playing physical football as well.   

The men doing that thankless work have also proven themselves capable of harming the opponents’ net. Eduard Atuesta, Bogusz, and Tillman have contributed a combined eight goals and five assists. 


  • On Sunday night, LAFC’s MLS NEXT Pro team, LAFC2, defeated the Galaxy’s MLS NEXT Pro side, Ventura County FC, by a score of 2-1. Nathan Ordaz played 80 minutes and scored a goal fresh off his flight from Portland, where he played the final, frantic 12 minutes against the Timbers. The loss was the Galaxy affiliate’s first of the year, while LAFC2 improved to 3W-1L-1D, just a point out of first place. LAFC2 next takes on Portland Timbers 2 at Titan Stadium on Sunday, April 28.
  • LAFC will play New York Red Bulls this weekend at home (7:30 p.m. PT). It will be defender Aaron Long’s first game against his former club, which signed him when he was a benchwarming midfielder, and converted him (under NYRB’s coach at the time, Jesse Marsch) to a dominant center back and the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year.
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