Hollingshead, Bouanga spark LAFC to victory over Whitecaps in Game 1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Defender Ryan Hollingshead and Golden Boot Award-winner Dénis Bouanga both scored goals in each half and Los Angeles FC began defence of its title with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in a Major League Soccer playoff opener on Saturday night.
LAFC (15-10-10), the third seed in the Western Conference, grabbed a 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by Hollingshead in the 18th minute. Brian White scored the equalizer for sixth-seeded Vancouver (12-11-12) in the 27th minute with an assist from Andrés Cubas.
LAFC regained the lead two minutes later when Bouanga took passes from Diego Palacios and Giorgio Chiellini and scored. The Whitecaps pulled even at halftime after Ryan Gauld set up a goal by defender Sam Adekugbe in the 40th minute.
"The message probably is that it's not over," said Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini about the message to the team following the loss.
"We played the last 25 minutes trying to do magic with all offensive players basically on the field."
Hollingshead gave LAFC the lead for good, scoring unassisted in the 52nd minute. Bouanga added an insurance goal in the 64th with an assist from Carlos Vela. Defender Jesús Murillo took a pass from Mateusz Bogusz and scored in the 80th minute to complete the scoring.
Maxime Crépeau did not make a save for LAFC. Yohei Takaoka saved one shot for the Whitecaps.
It was the first time the two clubs matched up in the post-season. Vancouver beat LAFC on the road for the first time with a 3-2 victory on June 24. LAFC had gone 4-0-3 in its first seven matchups at home with the Whitecaps, scoring at least three goals in all four wins.
Vancouver closed out the regular season with a 7-3-7 mark in its last 17 matches in all competitions and was unbeaten (1-0-4) in its last five. The Whitecaps and visiting LAFC played to a 1-1 draw in the regular-season finale.
Bouanga, who led the league with 20 goals in the regular season, entered play with 33 goals in all competitions — 12 more than anyone else.
LAFC travels to play the Whitecaps in the second leg of the series on Nov. 5.
Whitecaps striker White said his team is looking to put the loss behind them.
“I think the moods, you know, obviously, like I said before it sucks losing a game," he said.
"But it's clean slate now, go back to Vancouver, and we have to focus on winning that game that's all we can think about is the next game. It's win or go home now so we have to put all our energy, all our emotion into that game and win at home.”
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