LAFC booked their ticket to the Western Conference Final after a dramatic 3-2 win over crosstown rivals the LA Galaxy. Cristian Arango sealed the win for the home team in the third minute of stoppage time. While the game was uneventful for majority of the time, the match came down to the wire for the Supporters’ Shield champions.
The last minutes of the match were what you expect from a derby and an MLS playoff game. Denis Bouanga put LAFC ahead in the 80th minute with his second goal of the night, only for super sub Dejan Joveljic to tie it up five minutes later. Everything seemed like the game was heading to extra time, but Cristian Arango had other plans. The Colombian striker punished the galaxy off a corner with a quick reaction inside the small box. The substitution of Masala Opoku made a different in the game, bringing intense energy into the team. The team looked more fresh and faster in the attack. Bouanga, who also scored the winning goal vs Portland to seal the Supporters’ Shield, was named Man of the match. Number 99 repeated what Adama Diomande did to the galaxy 3 years earlier, also in a playoff match. It must be a #99 thing.
Ugly wins make champions
It was not the best game from LAFC, not even close. The home team went out from the get go with a defensive, more reactionary style, something we weren’t used to seeing. The Black and Gold took advantage of the poor defending and advantages the galaxy provided. But this is what makes this 2022 team different from other years. Any other year and LAFC would’ve lost this game while playing this way. This team has shown they can win crucial matches while not being at their best, and that is crucial in a playoff run. These are the types of games that can make you or break you.
Things to fix
While the team managed to grab the win and ticket to the conference final, things do need to change. if you are going to face a team like Austin or Dallas, you can’t show the face you showed in this match. Those two teams will make you pay. One thing coach Steve Cherundolo can’t do is set his team to defend, at home, in our atmosphere. If the team wants to go out against either of the Texan teams, they could pay for it. The first 20 minutes today were some of the worse of the season. The team was purely defending, when attacking, the team would do it with very few numbers. But the worst part of it all was the energy. The players looked like they were playing a pre-season game against an USL team, they did not look like they were playing a playoff game. A similar face like that in the conference final and you could wave goodbye to the cup.
LAFC will host the winner between Austin FC and FC Dallas in the Western Conference final, looking to seal a ticket to the MLS Cup final for the first time in the club’s history.