Dénis Bouanga scores legendary goal for LAFC after 13-hour flight


What do FC Dallas and jetlag have in common? Neither of them can contain Dénis Bouanga.

LAFC’s star striker put in a simply legendary performance off the bench Saturday night, scoring the late, game-winning goal from an impossible angle in the Black & Gold’s 2-1 win over FCD.

But that’s not even the best part of the story.

Bouanga braved a 13-hour flight from Turkey, arriving at BMO Stadium less than an hour before kickoff, after going the full 90 minutes for Gabon Thursday night in a 1-0 African Cup of Nations qualifier victory against Sudan.

“It speaks volumes for his character and his attitude and, you know, I guess his love for LAFC,” head coach Steve Cherundolo gushed after the result that kept the Black & Gold undefeated on the season with a 3W-0L-1D record.

"… You can see he loves being here and playing here, and he was able to contribute once again.”

“Contribute” may be an understatement.

The 28-year-old Designated Player, who arrived from French side Saint-Etienne midway through the club’s Supporters’ Shield-MLS Cup winning 2022 season, has stepped it up a notch this year. In league action alone, he’s tallied three goals and two assists, to go along with his three-goal output in the Concacaf Champions League.

Saturday night’s heroics only added to his cumulative impact, which helped LAFC secure the result after Timothy Tillman’s 3rd-minute opener was canceled out by Nkosi Tafari’s equalizer with 17 minutes remaining. After Carlos Vela sent his 79th-minute penalty kick off the post, it looked like the home side might drop points against an opponent playing the majority of the match with 10 men (Ema Twumasi saw red in the 35th minute).

But Bouanga had other ideas, making the most of his 25 minutes on the pitch to turn the game on its head with a moment of magic.

"I was ready to go and help the team right away," Bouanga said with injured goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau providing translation, insisting he was able to sleep the majority of the flight back to Los Angeles.

As for his 84th-minute game-winner that took both a Dallas defender and goalkeeper Maarten Paes completely by surprise, the man of the hour conceded luck definitely played a factor.

"It was a cross, but at the end of the day I saw the trajectory of the ball going through," Bouanga said, embracing his good fortune.

"Hell yeah, I’ll take it."