LAFC

LAFC beats Sounders 1-0 to advance to 2023 MLS Western Conference Final

Denis Bouanga scored his fourth goal of the MLS Cup playoffs in the 30th minute, goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau made seven saves, and defending champion Los Angeles FC advanced to the Western Conference final with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders.

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Los Angeles Football Club v Seattle Sounders FC: Western Semifinals - 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 26: Seattle Sounders midfielder João Paulo #6 and Los Angeles FC forward Denis Bouanga #99 collide during the first half at Lumen Field on November 26, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Denis Bouanga scored his fourth goal of the MLS Cup playoffs in the 30th minute, goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau made seven saves, and defending champion Los Angeles FC advanced to the Western Conference final with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night.

For 90 minutes, plus stoppage time, the two western conference foes had fans hanging on the edge of their seats as each nail-biting moment was filled with tenacity and tension. LAFC smothered the Sounders high-octane offensive attack, keeping a clean-sheet despite being out-played for most of the match.

For the better part of 90 minutes, Seattle, undefeated at home in the playoffs for the last decade, was the superior team. They out-shot the reigning MLS Cup champions 15-6, and had over three times as many shots on target (7-2).

However, LAFC just needed 10 seconds to thwart their west coast neighbors to the north.

Bouanga got one chance at goal and didn’t miss, scoring in his sixth straight game and sending LAFC home for the conference championship game against the Houston Dynamo next Saturday.

It also kept alive LAFC’s hopes of becoming the first back-to-back champion since the LA Galaxy in 2011-12.

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Bouanga was the Golden Boot winner during the regular season with 20 goals and he added three more in LAFC’s opening round victory over Vancouver. His goal came despite Seattle controlling play for most of the first half and having two great chances in the opening five minutes that were denied by Crepeau.

Bouanga’s shot was the only attempt LAFC put on goal in the first half and it finished with only two shots on target in the match.

They were fortunate to have Crepeau on the other end. The LAFC goalkeeper who fractured his ankle during the MLS Cup Final last November, made seven sensational saves to shutout Seattle.

The Sounders 19-game playoff unbeaten streak at home came to an end. Seattle had not lost a home playoff match since losing to Portland in the 2013 postseason.

Crepeau’s big night started almost immediately as he pushed aside Josh Atencio’s left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area in the opening moments. His better save came in the fourth minute when Jordan Morris outran Giorgio Chiellini on a breakaway, but Crepeau quickly left his net and was able to swat Morris’ chip attempt.

Seattle pressed in the final 20 minutes and Crepeau answered every attempt by the Sounders, denying shots from distance by Alex Roldan, Joao Paulo and Albert Rusnak’s chance in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

LAFC advances to their second consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final and will host the Houston Dynamo at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles next Saturday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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