Match Recap

“We will remember the positive side”

LAFC pushes ahead following a grinding home draw that tested its grit

Denis Bouanga LAFC NYRB 04202024

“He should be fine.”

Those were the most important words spoken after LAFC’s home draw with the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. They were said by head coach Steve Cherundolo about his starting center back, Aaron Long, who left the pitch ten minutes into the match after the defender smashed his right shin on the goal post. Long, one of three LAFC players to have played all 90 minutes of every game headed into the NYRB match, had started against his former club alongside Maxime Chanot, the recently signed center back who was filling in for the resting Jesús Murillo.

Long’s frightening collision with the post came at the end of a 60-yard recovery run in which he out-sprinted New York forward Dante Vanzeir and slid at full speed to block an attempted tap-in by the 26-year-old Belgian, which would have put NYRB up 1-0.

Veteran Eddie Segura came on to replace Long and inadvertently headed the ensuing corner kick into his own net, which led LAFC to the statistically rare position of trailing 1-0 at half despite not allowing a shot on goal.

And those were merely the first few minutes of a dogged, methodical, opportunistic affair with the early-season Supporters’ Shield contenders from the East, who clearly intended to send the sellout crowd at BMO Stadium home with zero points instead of one.

“Going down a goal early with a set piece after an injury is never easy, but I think our boys shook it off pretty well, got themselves back in the game,” Cherundolo said. “The second half response was very good.”


“We will only remember the positive side of tonight,” LAFC forward Denis Bouanga said after a 90-minute shift that saw him harassed, double-teamed, and in the end, undaunted. “We met a very strong team in New York.”

Despite his two goals, Bouanga’s performance spoke less about his standing as the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner than it did about the competitive fire and the clutch-time quality that saw him finish second in the league’s MVP voting last year. The Red Bulls’ match plan minimized Bouanga’s touches and his impact, but it could not hold up over the full 90 minutes.

The penalty Bouanga drew in the 63rd minute marked the fourth straight game in which an attacking action by the DP winger led directly to a set-piece goal for LAFC.

Bouanga on the attack:

A hard shot on goal by Bouanga was batted over the crossbar by Colorado’s keeper; the ensuing corner kick resulted in a goal for Eduard Atuesta


Bouanga drew a penalty in the box and converted the penalty kick


Bouanga drew a foul just outside the penalty area; Mateusz Bogusz scored on the ensuing free kick


Bouanga drew a penalty in the box and converted the penalty kick

Every Bouanga goal, it seems, carries its own story.

“Now each time I fall in the box, they’re going to check,” Bouanga said (through a French translator) of the VAR review that had preceded his equalizing penalty kick on Saturday night. “I think it’s going to follow me all season long because of what happened against the Galaxy … In the meantime the goalie [Carlos Coronel] came and asked me, ‘To the left or to the right?’ I answered, ‘I don’t know.’”

Bouanga converted the penalty and pointed to the right post as he jogged past Coronel. “I showed him, you see? It was to the right. Very simple.”

The conversion made Bouanga a perfect 9-for-9 on penalties across all competitions since he joined LAFC in 2022. Bouanga hasn’t missed a PK since playing in a French Ligue 1 match four years ago.

As for his second goal, which tied the game in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Bouanga said, “I just knew that there is very little time left in that moment. I had to decide very quickly, and I decided to go on my best [right] foot. And just to frame it, and to strike it as strong as possible, whether it’s deflected or not, just to put it on frame.”


Cherundolo sent a new starting XI onto the pitch for the first time in four matches; his hand forced by the absence of midfielder Eduard Atuesta, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation. The changes to Cherundolo’s preferred lineup included MLS veteran Kei Kamara starting at center forward, Bogusz moving to his more customary midfield role, and Chanot –the 34-year-old Frenchman acquired three weeks ago from Ligue 2 side AC Ajaccio.

Chanot, playing with a center back partner (Segura) he did not anticipate sharing the pitch with for 80 minutes, looked polished and calm. The 2021 MLS Cup Champion’s possession and distribution skills stood out - he led LAFC on the night with 91 completed passes. And when a swift Red Bulls counterattack left LAFC somewhat exposed in the 62nd minute, a composed Chanot tracked back and thwarted the threat presented by Lewis Morgan, whose six goals rank second in MLS.

In the waning minutes, Chanot went forward and stayed there, calling on his aerial skills as he became an extra attacker while LAFC sought the match-winning goal.

Maxime Chanot LAFC NYRB 04202024


Six days after a one-goal, one-assist performance in an MLS NEXT Pro match against Ventura County FC, Luis Müller made his MLS debut against the Red Bulls, coming on in the 89th minute and making an immediate impact. The 23-year-old German’s left-footed strike required a sprawling save by Coronel to maintain the Red Bulls’ 2-1 lead.

More important, Müller leaped high in the box 40 seconds later and won the header that caromed to Bouanga, allowing the 2023 Golden Boot winner to score the tying goal.

Luis Muller LAFC NYRB 04202024


LAFC, which stands at 3W-3L-3D on the season and 7th place in the Western Conference, faces these opponents over the next five games (all times PT):

Portland - 11th in West - April 27, 7:30 pm - BMO Stadium, Los Angeles
San Jose - 14th in West - May 4, 4:30 p.m. - Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
Vancouver - 2nd in West - May 11, 7:30 pm - BMO Stadium, Los Angeles
St. Louis - 9th in West - May 15, 5:30 p.m. - CITY PARK, St. Louis, Mo.
Atlanta - 7th in East - May 25, 4:30 p.m. - Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

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LAFC’s 2024 regular season resumes on Saturday, April 27, with a home match against the Portland Timbers. That game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT, can be seen live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, and on 710 AM ESPN LA, 980 AM La Mera Mera and SiriusXM FC.

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