The 2023 MLS regular season ended as LAFC is in the MLS playoff for the fourth time. Los Angeles Football Club, who finished third, will face Vancouver Whitecaps yet again, who finished sixth in the Western Conference League.
Both teams will face each other for the fifth time this season in all competitions. Two games were in the CONCACAF Champions League, where LAFC beat them in the Quarter-final 6-0 on aggregate. In the league, Vancouver beat LAFC at the BMO Stadium 3-2, and last Saturday, LAFC managed to get a 1-1 draw.
Form will go out of the window this Saturday as both teams are in the playoffs. LAFC must defend their title and end the 2023 season with a trophy. Otherwise, the fanbase will raise concerns about the players and manager. In Addition, it could be the Black and Gold third season out of the five without winning a trophy.
Going to the Game
After turning over Minnesota United and Austin FC by nine goals, it wasn’t LAFC night to turn the Whitecaps over. Going into the match, Denis Bouanga got a shot on goal, but Yohei Takaoka denied his 20th goal of the season.
The Whitecap got a penalty in the 11th minute through Ryan Hollingshead’s foul on Richie Laryea inside the area. Ryan Gauld stepped up to get the penalty, but Maxime Crépeau said no way with an outstanding save. Gauld continued to attack and give the Whitecaps the lead but failed four minutes after the missed penalty.
LAFC remained resilient before halftime, and Bouanga found his 20th goal, winning the MLS Golden Boot. He kicked the ball to the bottom corner easily to make it 1-0 after a great interception from Ilie Sánchez.
In the second half, LAFC and Vancouver had chances that failed to execute. But it didn’t take long for Vancouver to get the equalizer through Ali Ahmed’s acrobatic finish to put the ball into the top corner.
Vancouver remained aggressive, which led the Black and Gold to struggle. A nearly own goal from Sánchez could have cost LAFC the three points, and Crépeau’s knee saved the shot. The Whitecaps got another penalty after a foul by Diego Palacios.
Gauld stepped up to take the penalty, yet again, he missed, this time hitting the crossbar. Vancouver had a chance to make it 3-1 on Decision Day. But LAFC got saved, although they had more shots and shot on target.
Time to Defend
It’s time to defend the MLS Cup this Saturday by going through to the final. Although the Black and Gold finished third this season, they can beat any team. As for the Whitecaps, it’s a perfect chance to ruin the LAFC season and get revenge after what happened in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarter-final. LAFC has an advantage since they will host the first game out of the three playoff series at the BMO Stadium.