Whitecaps eye top-four spot, host LAFC in regular-season finale
Posted on: 21 Oct, 2023 at 02:24 AM
Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles FC will attempt to clinch a second-place finish in the Western Conference when they visit the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.
Los Angeles FC (14-10-9, 51 points) is one point ahead of the Seattle Sounders entering the Decision Day matchup with Vancouver.
LAFC is coming off consecutive strong efforts -- a 5-1 home win over Minnesota United on Oct. 4 and a 4-2 road win over Austin FC on Oct. 7.
"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," LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. "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."
Star forward Denis Bouanga scored five goals in the two victories -- three against Minnesota and two against Austin -- and has a league-best 19 goals. He leads the competition for the Golden Boot by three goals over Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati.
The Whitecaps (12-10-11, 47 points) are currently the sixth seed in the West. Vancouver has a chance to claim a top-four spot and home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but it needs to beat LAFC and have three other results go their way.
The Whitecaps are 1-0-3 in their past four matches and are coming off a scoreless draw with Seattle on Oct. 7.
Vancouver coach Vanni Sartini was highly pleased with the result and what it might mean in the coming weeks.
"I'm very happy because we showed the spirit that we have to have in the playoffs, and the spirit that we have to have against LAFC for the last game of the season, trying to clinch one of the top four places," Sartini said.
"We're not scared of anyone. We showed, if you don't lose against this team that gives everything in order to beat you, we can win everywhere. We're gonna have fun in November."
The Whitecaps have tied their franchise high of 54 goals in a MLS regular season. The duo of Brian White (15 goals) and Ryan Gauld (11 goals, 12 assists) lead the way.
--Field Level Media