“We just feel really good right now.”

LAFC closes a month in which it led MLS in points earned, by taking three more to start June then taking a well-earned rest.

LAFC v FCD Bouanga Kamara Lloris 06012024

On any other week it would have been a Goal of the Matchday candidate. Petar Musa’s 82nd-minute strike against LAFC on Saturday would have had to contend for that honor with former LAFC forward Cristian Arango’s nearly identical 60-yard bomb against Austin, had Musa’s hit gone in. But it didn’t.

Nothing has gone in, actually.

Hugo Lloris’ backpedaling punch of Musa’s attempt over the crossbar during LAFC’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas is just the fanciest example of an ongoing LAFC defensive effort that is approaching MLS-record territory.

Lloris and his teammates have now recorded six consecutive shutouts in all competitions and have gone five straight MLS games (all wins) without allowing a goal. The team’s still-growing franchise records for scoreless minutes in those two categories now stand at 480 minutes and 575 minutes, respectively.

“To be honest, I don’t count the minutes,” Lloris said after the final whistle. “I just enjoy every game. Most important, we get another win, and now we can have a little break … It was a great team effort.”

Head coach Steve Cherundolo has made that “team effort” point repeatedly during this clean-sheet streak. In LAFC’s game model, all 11 players are defenders.

“I think part of collective defending is also making good decisions with the ball in build-up play,” Cherundolo said after the Dallas win. “You are not exposing yourself to too many transitions. When you do lose the ball, it's in areas of the field that don't hurt you very much. And on top of that, your reactions after ball losses are good and collective and immediate, which is really important. So you're seeing it all kind of come together.”

LAFC’s 10 shots on target forced Dallas keeper Maarten Paes to make nine saves, whereas Lloris was only called upon to make three—including his leaping punch of Musa’s effort. LAFC held the dangerous Czech, Dallas’ leading scorer, to just one other shot on goal. Two-time MLS All Star Jesús Ferreira took zero shots in his 84-minute shift.

“It feels really good for us forwards to know that we are so solid in the back, with a great defense, a great goalkeeper,” said LAFC forward Denis Bouanga. “It really gives us a peace of mind.”

And then there is LAFC’s rediscovered ability to maintain possession and control the game when circumstances warrant it, before picking the most dangerous pass. The Black & Gold completed 11 passes during the 74th-minute build-up that ended with Mateusz Bogusz’s grass-burning through ball to Bouanga, whose finish sealed the 1-0 result.

“It was a perfect pass,” Bouanga said. “We had seen that there was space in between the two defenders, and we actually talked about it at halftime. So I knew that he would try and get that pass, and that I just had to go fast in the middle, and it worked out.”

Five of LAFC’s ten shots on target came from Bouanga, who at his current pace will exceed the 20 goals he scored his 2023 Golden Boot season. As he travels to Africa this week to play for Gabon in two World Cup qualifiers (against Ivory Coast on June 7 and Gambia on June 11), last year’s MLS MVP runner up could hardly be in better form:

Bouanga has scored or assisted on nine of the 12 goals LAFC has scored since May 11, across all competitions.

His goal against Dallas was his 13th game-winning goal for LAFC. (Only the legendary Carlos Vela has more.) Bouanga’s goal, his 10th of the season, made him the fourth player in LAFC history to score at least 10 goals in consecutive seasons. (Vela, Diego Rossi, and Arango are the others.)

The goal was also the 30th Bouanga has scored since the start of the 2023 season, more than any other player in that span.

“I try to stay decisive at every game,” he said. “I try to stay positive but decisive. It's thanks to the management and all my teammates that I'm able to do that, and tonight I'm particularly happy to have scored the only goal and to have got the three points with one game less [than conference leaders RSL].”

Bouanga continued: “We just feel really good right now. Even though tonight, maybe we were a little bit tired, we knew that we had to push and that we could rest later. But it's also thanks to the supporters, who were really like a twelfth man, like a twelfth person that pushed us all the way.”

“The momentum stops tonight,” a smiling Cherundolo said when asked about the upcoming international window. “And that's OK. We achieved our objective and that was to get maximum points out of the last games. And the team is fatigued and needs a break. We are losing some players for international break and possibly beyond that for Copa America. So that can hurt in that stretch … but it can also be an opportunity for other players to step up.”

These four LAFC players will play for their home countries over the next week or two, during FIFA’s international window:

Denis Bouanga - Gabon
Maxime Chanot - Luxembourg
Timmy Tillman – USA
Cristian Olivera - Uruguay

International Call Ups_Web

Defender Luca Bombino of LAFC2, the club’s MLS Next Pro team, was invited to the United States’ U-19 training camp.

Forward Olivier Giroud, who signed with LAFC last month and will join the senior roster this summer, was called to play for France, for whom he has scored more goals than any player in its history.

LAFC’s regular season resumes on June 15 when the Black & Gold faces Orlando City SC, in Orlando, Florida. The game will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 710 AM ESPN LA, and 980 AM La Mera La Mera [Español].

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