(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The LAFC eagerly returned from their first road trip to their home pitch at BMO Stadium on a beautiful Spring evening in our City of the Angels for a very early 4:30 pm match against the Austin FC. They came into the contest with a (2-2-1=7 points) record and 4th place in the Western Conference standings. The LAFC came into the match with their (3-0-2=11 points) overall MLS record, good for 3rd place in the standings.
[Pre-Match Review]: This was a re-match of last year’s Western Conference final which was won by LAFC, (3-0). Both squads showed roster changes of different dimensions, but LAFC has seamlessly replaced the scoring prowess of Cristian “Chicho” Arango from last season and replaced it with a much-appreciated and incredible player addtiion from late 2022, in the rapidly flourishing “match-by-match” production of Forward, #99/Dénis Boulanga.
[LAFC Starting Line-Up]: Coach Cherundolo inserted #1/Eldin Jacupovic at Goalkeeper for his first start, Honduran national, Denil Maldonado, and veteran Giorgio Chiellini, in probable anticipation of Tuesday’s Scotiabank Concacaf CHAMPIONS League match, Leg 2, against the Vancouver Whitecaps. But, on the other hand, since Cherundolo has the luxury of winning the early season matches comfortably, it thus gives him “Coach’s Decision” to make all of the rotations he’s been planning to implement for the betterment of the team.
[Lead Referee]: Victor Rivas; [Pre-Match]: Falcon Flight; “OLLY” & Handler, Jason Miknuk; National Anthem, Andrew Aguayo. [Match Start-Time]: 4:54 pm
[Photo Gallery]: Frankli Robles, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions, LLC
To view the match highlight video, please click here.
[1st HALF]: Right after the opening kick-off, LAFC took command control of the ball and began to immediately enforce its offensive attack mode on their opponents. Their rhythm was sharp, to the point, and consistent at best, provoking El Grupo 3252 and the entire BMO Stadium crowd to emit great surges of avid vocal support. In everyone’s minds, players and coaches included, all were very conscious and hopeful to see the potential and deadly scoring threat of #99/Dénis Bouanga light up the scoreboard and the crowd to fever pitch, given his recent scoring accomplishments that have secured wins.
And so the stage was set for this expectation and at minute (40:00) minute, #99 delivered the first score of the match with a great long ball that sailed just slightly over the head of Goalkeeper, Brad Stuver, and into the back of the net for a (1-0) lead. For his goal celebratory move, Bouanga simply did a perfect forward front flip. with a huge smile on his face showing when he landed. There would be no more scoring in the period, however, the Black & Gold simply had twice as many attacks than Austin.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: LAFC 1 Austin FC 0
[2nd HALF]: Continuing to play up to the fans’ delight was “Mr. Automatic”or “La Maquina”, (our extra nicknames for) #99/Bouanga, when at minute (58:00), on a left corner-kick, and after two player deflected “headers”, that sent the ball into Bouanga’s direct run-up path on the 18 yard box right side, and, while the ball was coming down, he stroked it cleanly and firmly into the back of the net for his 2nd “golden” goal of the match. This would also mark the first chants of “MVP-MVP-MVP” chants from the crowd. For this goal celebration move, Bouanga showed a big happy face while giving his best gesture of shooting a bow-and-arrow, much to the crowd’s delight.
At minute (61:00) Coach Cherundolo then began subbing in his long list of reserves, and sent in Captain #10/Carlos Vela for #22/Kwadwo Opoku, #6/Ilie Sánchez for #11/Timothy Tillman, and #24/Ryan Hollingshead for #12/Diego Palacios.and #12/Diego Palacios.
Then at minute (68:00) the much-awaited and expected first MLS “Hat Trick” occurred for Bouanga when he turned a sensational crosser with assists form Vela and Palencia into another unbelievable high degree of difficulty goal into the left side of the netting. Immediately, roars upon roars of approval came cascading down onto the pitch along with more persistent chants of “MVP-MVP-MVP” for the second time in the match. Then at minute (71:00), Coach Cherundolo replaced his ever-improving star forward, with the LAFC Academy produced young player, Midfielder/#18/Eric Dueñas. The final substitution of the match was midfielder, #17/Daniel Crisostomo for midfielder, #23/Kellyn Acosta.
The finish of the match was basically all “academic” as Austin FC could provide no counterpunch to the skillfully placed “knockout” goals that Bouanga accomplished in his phenomenal “Hat Trick” on this evening.
[FULL-TIME SCORE]: LAFC 3 Austin FC 0 [ATTENDANCE]: 22,199
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: “The Man of The Match,” #99/Bouanga has somehow found a way to set his scoring on “automatic pilot” and has found more ways to score than many other players who are basically just settling in with their new teams around the MLS. At this point in the new season, Bouanga is outpacing previous LAFC, if not MLS, match scoring records. He has now certainly captured the eye of many MLS fans, new LAFC followers, and the multitude of media outlets who report on Soccer/Fútbol.
[NEXT UP]: On Tuesday, 4/11 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Quarterfinal Leg 2, Scotiabank Concacaf CHAMPIONS League, at BMO Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7:15 pm. Watch on FS1 and TUDN