After putting on a vintage performance in the opening match of this best-of-3 series, LAFC hit the road and make the trip to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps in their house. The biggest question coming into this one was which LAFC would we get tonight? Would it be the LAFC we saw last weekend, the uber talented group capable of unleashing an avalanche of goals in any given match. Or would we see the 2023 version of LAFC. Still a good team, but inconsistent. A team that has followed up big wins with letdowns just as big. Alas, this is the playoffs, and in a lot of ways, a new season. Now we see if the switch has been flipped for the Los Angeles side looking to repeat.

As always is the case in the MLS, scoring first, especially when on the road, would be key for the black & gold. They were their usual pressuring selves, knocking on the door of goal for the first ten minutes. They then earned an opportunity to kick that door down. In the 20th minute Denis Bouanga was brought down in the box for an early penalty. While the tackle looked clean enough, on replay, there was clearly a shove to the back that was the likely cause of the call. Bouanga stepped up and smashed it home as he continues to just score goals whenever he steps on the pitch.

Vancouver kept most of the possession in the half, with 55%, but just had one shot that didn’t find the target. LAFC for their part may have conceded possession, but they put on five shots, one of them being the penalty for the lead early. A lead that they took into halftime, despite the Whitecaps doing well to nearly equalize before the break.

LAFC did something we never really saw them do before in the second half, they decided to sit back a bit and let Vancouver do their thing. They didn’t completely park their bus, but they did essentially play to counter. Through the 70th minute mark LAFC had added just one more shot to their tally, while Vancouver got several more looks, with nine shots, but only three finding the target. Still, the home side were starting to ask the questions of the visitors as we hit the final stage of the match.

LAFC saw out the match in their typical style. They had a chance to slam the door shut at the end with a second goal, but it was called back. In that same sequence, Vancouver Whitecaps Head Coach, Vanni Sartini had words with the referee that resulted in him being shown a red card, and early exit from the match. He wouldn’t miss much as LAFC did what they needed to do to see out the win, and advance into the next round. While it wasn’t the most impressive performance, it was enough to get the job done on the road and move on in their quest for a repeat. The team now await the winner of the Seattle Sounders / FC Dallas series. Unlike the opening round, the black & gold are now in win or go home territory.

Thoughts on the win? Leave a comment below!

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