LAFC "hungry for more" as Bouanga enters supersonic mode


That sound you hear? It’s LAFC rounding into form with the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs around the corner.

The Black & Gold stormed to a 4-2 win at Austin FC on Saturday night, following up on their 5-1 demolition of Minnesota United FC at home midweek. Dénis Bouanga has soared into the Golden Boot presented by Audi lead, tallying five goals and one assist across that span to give him 19g/7a on the year. Bouanga has a three-goal cushion over FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta (16g/13a), his closest Golden Boot challenger.

This version of LAFC was waiting to emerge, in head coach Steve Cherundolo’s opinion, after a recent four-game goalless streak across all competitions.

“We’re playing a level of football that’s pretty good and it’s hard to beat us, hard to score on us, it’s hard to defend us,” Cherundolo said postgame. “The last two games for sure, excellent performances and the guys deserve all the credit in the world because they put in the hard work on the training field and in the video room, taking critique in the right manner and applying the solutions in training, but also the game.

“… They’re a pleasure to coach and they’re hungry for more, which is even better news.”

For the second straight year, LAFC ended Austin’s season. Saturday’s result halted the hosts’ postseason bid, while in 2022 these sides met in the Western Conference Final before Cherundolo’s group eventually secured an MLS Cup-Supporters’ Shield double.

Given their matchups to date, Austin head coach Josh Wolff was full of praise for the SoCal club.

“They're a team that physically can match you all over the field and if they want to go one-for-one, they have the athletes to do that,” said Wolff. “I don't look at them as a team that has to have the ball or use the ball, it's just when they get the ball they're quite direct, they're quite powerful, they're quite individualistic. But they can also put plays together because they just have quality throughout the field. They make it challenging with their athleticism, their speed, their power.

“… I don't think they play the most exciting football, but they are the most punishing and they have unequivocally the most talent in the league.”

LAFC, second in the West, close their regular season with a Decision Day trip to playoff-bound Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Oct. 21 (9 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). Some players will spend time away during the FIFA international window, then return to potentially keep the good times rolling.

“It’s a week to not completely let your guard down, but to get some much-needed rest and recovery time,” said Cherundolo. “We’ll use that time to our full advantage. We have another full week of training to get ready for our final regular-season game at Vancouver, which is a difficult place to play, but we’ve won there before and we want to do it again.”