A Denis Bouanga hat-trick in the second half lead LAFC to a 3-0 victory over L.D Alajualense in their CONCACAF Champions League opener. With the second leg to be played Wednesday night at BMO Stadium, yesterday’s result gives the Black and Gold room for rotations.

After a first half full of missed chances, a Hollingshead ground pass through the middle of the box found Bouanga second post for the tap in. Hollingshead and Bouanga would duplicate the play 23 minutes later to double the team’s lead. The Gabonese would get his hat-trick with a rocket of a goal right before the 90th minute.

Some notable performances came from Giorgio Chiellini and John McCarthy. Chiellini has impressed since his arrival to Los Angeles and last night proved why he could be the team’s best defender this season. His leadership and ability to see danger coming before it happens will be crucial for a team that leaves the defense vulnerable because of their offensive style. McCarthy’s MLS Cup momentum continues to rise as the goalkeeper has taken over the goalposts, doing a great job while Max Crepeau recovers from injury.

This is LAFC’s second run in the tournament after losing the final vs Tigres back in 2020. Carlos Vela, Jose Cifuentes, Diego Palacios, Kwadwo Opoku, and Jesus Murillo are the only players remaining from that squad. Back in 2020, the tournament was played in a bubble due to the Covid pandemic and reached the final after eliminating Liga MX’s Club Leon, Cruz Azul, and Club America.

The Black and Gold will look to repeat last year’s success from the Seattle Sounders, becoming the first MLS club to win the CONCACAF Champions League in its current format. A title win would mean LAFC would earn them a ticket to FIFA’s Club World Cup in 2024.

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