The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) clinched a berth in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs with a convincing 5-1 win over Minnesota United on Wednesday night in the final regular season game of the year at BMO Stadium.
LAFC found themselves behind 1-0 after just four minutes, however, the early deficit would last just two minutes before Denis Bouanga equalized in the 6th minute. Bouanga would then score his second of the game in the 36th minute before completing his hat trick in first-half stoppage time to give LAFC a 3-1 lead at the break.
The lead was extended to 4-1 thanks to an own goal just a minute after the restart before Filip Krastev rounded out the scoring in the 67th minute with his first-ever goal in MLS play.
With his three goals, Bouanga now has an MLS-best 17 in 29 MLS games. With two games remaining in the regular season, the Gabon international has a one-goal lead over FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta in the race for the MLS Golden Boot. Bouanga has scored 30 goals this season in all competitions, the most of any MLS player this year.
LAFC is now 13-10-9 on the season for 48 points. The Club has two games left in the regular season, beginning Saturday, October 7 with the penultimate game of the year on the road against Austin FC at the Q2 Stadium. That game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 710 AM and 980 AM.
NEWS & NOTES
- This is the second straight season that LAFC has reached the playoffs and the fifth time in the club’s six-year history.
- LAFC finishes the 2023 MLS regular season with a 10-4-3 record at BMO Stadium for 33 of the club’s 48 points.
- This is the third time in six seasons that LAFC has won 10 or more home games during the regular season. In both 2019 and 2022, LAFC won 13 games en route to winning the Supporters’ Shield.
- Denis Bouanga’s goal in the sixth minute snapped a string of 372 consecutive minutes without a goal in all competitions for the Club. After scoring in the 84th minute against the LA Galaxy on September 16, LAFC was held without a goal in their next four games before breaking that streak today.
- During that scoreless streak, LAFC only allowed two goals, one in the 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Sunday and one in the fourth minute tonight.
- That was the second-longest scoreless streak in club history, bested only by a run of 408 minutes between June 4 and June 17 earlier this year when the club was shutout in four consecutive matches and then failed to score until the 48th minute of an eventual 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City.
- Denis Bouanga recorded his fourth hat trick of the year in all competitions on the night. All three of his goals came in the first half, making him the first LAFC player ever to score three goals in the first half of an MLS game. He is the fourth
- Bouanga’s hat tricks in the Champions League (against Alajuelense) and League Cup (against FC Juarez) each saw him score all three of his goals in the second half.
- This was Bouanga’s second hat trick in the league, tying Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi for the most regular season hat tricks in club history.
- For the year, Bouanga now has 30 goals in all competitions. That is tied for the fourth most goals in a calendar year in MLS history. Only Carlos Vela (38 goals in 2019), Josef Martinez (35 goals in 2018) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (31 goals in 2019) have scored more than Bouanga’s 30 goals.
- If Bouanga can hold on to win the MLS Golden Boot, he will become the third LAFC player to win the award in six years. In the 28-year history of MLS, only two other teams, D.C. United and FC Dallas, have had three different players win the Golden Boot.
- Carlos Vela made the 150th regular season appearance of his MLS career tonight. The lone player remaining from LAFC’s inaugural 2018 season, Vela holds the club’s all-time records in games played (150), goals (78), and assists (59,) including two tonight.
- Vela’s 12 assists on the season are tied for the sixth most in MLS this year. He remains one goal shy of his fourth season with 10+ goals and 10+ assists.
- Diego Palacios started at left back on the night for LAFC. This was the 100th regular season appearance of his MLS career with all of them coming from the Black and Gold. Palacios is the fifth player to make 100 appearances for LAFC, joining Latif Blessing, Jose Cifuentes, Diego Rossi, and Carlos Vela.
- Palacios collected an assist in the game, his second of the season, on Bouanga’s eventual game-winning goal.
- Filip Krastev scored the first goal of his MLS career in the 67th minute, just four minutes after entering the game. Krastev scored his first-ever goal for LAFC in the Leagues Cup against Real Salt Lake, scoring six minutes after coming on for his debut in that game.