Denis Bouanga is having the time of his life in Los Angeles. The Gabon international started the 2023 season with a bang, striking 12 goals and 6 assists in the first 12 games across all competitions. We haven’t seen these numbers this early in the season since Carlos Vela’s 2019 record-breaking season.
Record-season in the making?
It hasn’t been long into the season, and Bouanga has already made his case to be a serious candidate for this season’s MVP. The Gabonese registers almost a goal contribution a game in MLS and 5 goals and 4 assists in the Concacaf Champions League. We all remember the stellar game in Vancouver where Bouanga scored a hat-trick in the Concacaf Champions League Quarter-finals. He would repeat this feat after scoring a hat-trick in MLS against Austin FC.
Vela ended the 2019 MLS season with 34 goals and 15 assists in 31 games, breaking the previous record from Josef Martinez with 31. Bouanga, so far in 8 games, registers 7 goals and 1 assist.
Key piece in the CCL
While last year was a big one, winning the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, this year can be an even bigger one for LAFC, and Bouanga is the key piece that can lead the team to the best season ever from an MLS club. Back in 2020, Carlos Vela led the team to the CCL final, registering 5 goals in five games against Club Leon, Cruz Azul, and Club America.
The Black and Gold will receive Philadelphia Union in the second leg of the semi-finals, one game away from reaching the final, where they could face Tigers, who beat them 2-1 in the 2020’s final.
If LAFC does indeed reach the CCL final, it is very likely that the second leg of the final will be played at BMO Stadium. This is based on the record of each team so far in the competition.
The Black and Gold’s admiration for Denis
It isn’t just the statistics that make Bouanga LAFC’s best player this season; it is also the constant threat feeling that the Gabonese player transmits. Every time he receives the ball, you get a feeling that anything can happen, as we saw in the game against Austin FC. He is the type of player to lift the stadium off their seats every time he receives the ball in the final third.
It also doesn’t take much for Bouanga to shine, as we saw against F.C. Dallas. The Gabonese player had just landed from international duty, just to go in the second half and score the winning goal from a tight angle. Coach Steve Cherundolo expressed his praise after that game, saying his performance speaks volumes of his character and attitude.