After 360 plus minutes without scoring a goal in four straight games LAFC broke the streak with five goals, thrashing Minnesota United FC 5-1 at BMO Stadium on Wednesday night in the last home game of the season for the black and gold.
Dénis Bouanga had a spectacular night scoring three goals within the first half of regulation becoming the first player in LAFC history to score a hat trick within the first 45 minutes of play. He now has tallied 17 goals thus far in the regular season leading all players in the Golden Boot race and 30 goals overall in all competitions.
“Of course it’s a personal goal to win the Golden Boot but like I said it’s because of the team and the coach," said Dénis Bouanga when asked if winning the Golden Boot Award was a personal goal. “I’ll be happy to win the Golden Boot but I would like to celebrate with the whole team and I’ll be really proud of it.”
In the fourth minute, Minnesota United got off to a fast start off a break away from Emanuel Reynoso playing the ball quickly inside the box and shooting at an angle deflected off goalkeeper Max Crépeau and eventually headed into the back of the net by Hassani Dotson.
However, Minnesota United’s lead quickly evaporated in the sixth minute off a Carlos Vela cross that bounced off Mateusz Bogusz’s chest finding Dénis Bouanga at close range blasting the ball into the back of the net to end the scoreless drought.
“As soon as we scored the tying goal, [it was] only a matter of time before we went up because of the chances we created and how we were getting in behind their back four,” said LAFC Head Coach Steve Cherundolo. “We did it in a fashion where we did it every three to four minutes and if you do that you’re going to score goals and it was very clear to us it’s just a matter of when.”
Throughout the first half, LAFC dominated the game and put pressure on Minnesota United’s defense that eventually cracked — in the 36th minute Dénis Bouanga powered through to blast the ball into the back of the net off a cross from Diego Palacios.
LAFC’s offense wasn’t done scoring — Dénis Bouanga completed his hat trick in stoppage before the end of the first half putting the defending champions up 3-1. Dénis Bouanga scored his second hat trick of the regular season and his fourth in all competitions this year.
LAFC’s Filip Krastev was subbed in the 63rd minute and made an immediate impact in the midfield scoring in the 67th minute off a fast break away intercepting a pass in the midfield and taking it all the way to put Minnesota United away 5-1 to secure a playoff berth.
After falling down to fourth place in Western Conference standings LAFC climbed to third place with the victory, one point behind the Seattle Sounders who have 49 points. However, the West playoff picture isn’t settled just yet. Behind LAFC, Real Salt Lake has 46 points along with Vancouver with 46 points. The Houston Dynamo are within striking distance in the standings with 45 points.
The black and gold have two remaining games on their schedule against Austin FC on Oct. 7 and against Vancouver on Oct. 21. Winning these last two games is important in terms of seeding as the defending champions look to gain momentum heading into the postseason.
LAFC clinches a playoff berth in the 2023 season
Dotson - '4 Goal
Bouanga - '6 Goal, '36, '45+'1
Tapias ( OG )- '46
Krastev - '67