The Black & Gold will now visit Eastern Conference winners Columbus Crew on Dec. 9 for MLS Cup presented by Audi (4 pm ET | Apple TV - Free), advancing as the West's No. 3 seed. If LAFC win next weekend, they'll become the first repeat winners since the 2011-12 LA Galaxy and will book a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup spot.
This all arrives after Ryan Hollinghsead bagged his third goal of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, cleaning up a corner-kick scramble in the 44th minute. Giorgio Chiellini's initial header on Carlos Vela's service was saved, but the All-Star right back slammed home the rebound.
Houston's comeback hopes were dashed in the 80th minute when defender Franco Escobar, an MLS Cup 2022 champion with LAFC, scored an own goal after redirecting Diego Palacios' cross past goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Vela, subbed off in the 77th minute to a standing ovation, may have played his final home game for the club. The captain and inaugural signing is out of contract at season's end.
- THE BIG PICTURE: LAFC, playing their 52nd match of 2023 across all competitions, have one more chance at winning a trophy this year. They came oh-so-close in CCL and Campeones Cup, and will like their chances of beating Columbus next weekend. Houston’s run is over, but there’s plenty for Best XI midfielder Héctor Herrera and Ben Olsen’s new-look group to take pride in. They won the US Open Cup in September and have changed perceptions of the club.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Hollingshead’s goal just before halftime ensured the hosts would march on.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It flew under the radar, but LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau made five saves to post another clean sheet.