The Los Angeles Football Club saw its quest to repeat as MLS Cup champions end with a 2-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew in MLS Cup 2023 at Lower.com Field in Ohio. Columbus scored a pair of goals four minutes apart late in the first half before MLS Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga pulled a goal back in the 74th minute. However, LAFC were unable to find an equalizer in the final 16 minutes and were unable to stop the Crew from winning their third MLS Cup.
Columbus took a 2-0 lead into the halftime break after Cucho Hernandez converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, snapping LAFC’s 400 minute streak without allowing a goal, and Yaw Yeboah scored the eventual game-winning goal, finishing a pass from Malte Amundsen, four minutes later.
LAFC pulled a goal back in the 74th minute when Bouanga scored his 38th goal of the year in all competitions, tying the MLS record for goals in a calendar year. Jesus Murillo intercepted a pass in the attacking third for LAFC and burst into the box before laying off a pass for Bouanga who had his first shot saved, before converting the rebound to make the score 2-1.
NEWS & NOTES
- LAFC is now 1-1 all-time in the MLS Cup, having won the MLS Cup title last season before today’s loss.
- This loss snapped LAFC’s seven-game unbeaten streak in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Before this game, LAFC had not lost in the playoffs since 2020, having not qualified for the postseason in 2021 and winning the MLS Cup last year.
- The Crew took a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute when Cucho Hernandez converted a penalty kick to give the home side a 1-0. That goal snapped LAFC’s streak of 400 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal. That streak stretched back to the 40th minute of the Round One Game 1 victory over Vancouver on October 28.
- Denis Bouanga scored LAFC’s only goal in the 74th minute. That was his fifth goal of the MLS Cup Playoffs. He finished tied with the Crew’s Cucho Hernandez as the top postseason goal scorer this year.
- Bouanga finished 2023 with 38 goals in all competitions for LAFC. That equaled Carlos Vela’s record of 38 goals in a calendar year, which he set in 2019.
- In addition to his 38 goals, Bouanga also had 13 assists this year, giving him 51 goal contributions in 48 games in all competitions.
- Bouanga is now one of 12 players in MLS history with five or more goals in a single postseason.
- LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, who has started each of LAFC’s last seven postseason games dating back to the start of last season, finished the game with three saves,
- Of the 11 players that started today’s game for LAFC, eight also started in last year’s MLS Cup for LAFC. Only Giorgio Chiellini, Timothy Tillman, and Cristian Olivera started this season after not starting a year ago.
- This was the third consecutive game in which LAFC had utilized the same starting lineup.
- Since debuting in MLS in 2018, LAFC has played 12 postseason games. Carlos Vela had appeared in all 12 of those, starting 11.
- LAFC defender Giorgio Chiellini, at the age of 39 years and 117 days, is the oldest non-goalkeeper to start an MLS Cup Final.
- In the 76th minute, Filip Krastev came on for Kellyn Acosta to make his MLS Cup Playoff debut.
- MLS Cup was LAFC’s record 53rd official game of 2023. This year, the club played 34 regular season games, eight Concacaf Champions League games, five MLS Cup Playoff games, three Leagues Cup games, two U.S. Open Cup games, and one game in the Campeones Cup against Tigres. In those 53 games, LAFC had 23 wins, 16 losses, and 13 draws while scoring 94 goals and conceding 57.
- Since 2012, the MLS Cup has been played at the home stadium of the finalist with the better regular season record. In the 12 years since the home side has won nine titles while the visitors have only won three.