LAFC buzz by Whitecaps thanks to pair of braces
Posted on: 29 Oct, 2023 at 02:27 AM
Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports
Denis Bouanga and Ryan Hollingshead each recorded a brace, leading host Los Angeles FC to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-three first-round playoff series.
Bouanga, the 2023 MLS Golden Boot winner, scored in the 29th and 64th minutes for the defending MLS Cup champions. Hollingshead scored goals in the 18th minute and the 52nd minute for LAFC, who went 0-1-1 against the Whitecaps in the regular season.
Brian White and Sam Adekugbe had the goals for Vancouver, which ended the regular season on a five-match unbeaten run (1-0-4). The Whitecaps had lost just three of their previous 14 league matches entering Saturday's meeting with LAFC.
Game 2 of the series is set for Nov. 5 in Vancouver.
Los Angeles held a slight edge in possession in the opening 45 minutes, but the two sides were tied 2-2 at the halftime whistle.
Hollingshead opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Whitecaps keeper Yohei Takaoka stopped Hollingshead's header off a Carlos Vela cross, but Hollingshead's left-footed strike on the rebound found the back of the net.
Vancouver responded in the 27th minute. White's right-footed strike off an Andres Cubas through ball beat Maxime Crepeau to level the score at 1-1.
LAFC retook the lead two minutes later when Diego Palacios sent Bouanga in -- the Argentine cut inside and beat Takaoka with a right-footed strike.
Before the first-half whistle, Vancouver tied it 2-2 off a set piece, as Adekugbe headed in a Ryan Gauld cross. The goal was Adekugbe's first in 11 appearances for the Whitecaps.
Los Angeles scored three unanswered goals in the second half.
Hollingshead's second of the match gave LAFC a 3-2 lead in the 52nd minute. Off a set piece, the rebound of Bouanga's strike bounced to the American defender, who scored his sixth goal of the season (regular season and playoffs).
Bouanga recorded his second goal of the match in the 64th minute when his right-footed strike got past Takaoka.
LAFC defender Jesus Murillo made it 5-2 in the 80th minute, putting his header off the bar and in.
Saturday was the first MLS Cup Playoffs meeting between LAFC and Vancouver. The only other knockout round encounter between the two sides came during the quarterfinals of this year's CONCACAF Champions League, which saw Los Angeles advance 6-0 on aggregate.
--Field Level Media