LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles FC nearly doubled Sporting KC’s shots and got another goal from high-scoring Dénis Bouanga on Wednesday night, but the Black and Gold had to settle for a 1-1 draw at BMO Stadium.
“I think KC is the best team I ever played so far,” Bouanga said through a translator after the game. “They’re a real team that played good soccer. I missed some opportunities but I hope we’re going to move forward fast.”
Bouanga scored the first goal of the game in the 13th minute, making him the sixth-fastest player in MLS history to reach 10 goals from the start of the season.
The Paris-born forward had four shots on Wednesday and has 38 in MLS play this season (20 on target).
“The way we played is geared towards attackers and creating chances and scoring goals,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said of Bouanga, who has another six goals in the team’s six CONCACAF Champions League matches this year. “So if you’re an attacker and you run towards the goal and you have a decent finish on it, you’re gonna score with LAFC and that’s exactly what Dénis is doing.”
Defender Ryan Hollingshead netted a goal late in the match, but it was disallowed after an offsides review. LAFC (6-1-4, 22 points) outshot the opposition 13-7 and had six shots on goal but was unable to capitalize on those chances in the remainder of the match.
Kwadwo Opoku went chest-to-chest with a Kansas City defender in the 10th minute to get within scoring range, but goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh cleared the ball. Three minutes later, Bouanga received a pass from Opoku and scored on the first touch down the middle for a 1-0 lead.
“I love to play, I’m hungry to play,” said Bouanga, who has seven goals and two assists in five MLS home matches this season. “When I’m home I don’t like it. I want to play back-to-back and win back-to-back MLS (titles).”
Opoko took a left-footed shot from the right side of the box shortly after that was saved by McIntosh and Bouanga had two more scoring attempts before the end of the first half.
Sporting KC (2-7-4, 10 points) pulled even in the 20th minute when Johnny Russell launched a ball from the left side of the box. The goal, off of assists from Rémi Walter and Alan Pulido, was the 50th of Russell’s career, which makes him the third player in club history to reach the milestone.
By halftime, LAFC had outshot SKC 6-5, with four of those shots coming from Bouanga.
“We just dropped and didn’t apply enough pressure on the ball while they were progressing forward,” Cherundolo said. “It was much better in the second half. Just kind of a lull in the game after we went up and had a few chances.”
LAFC began the second half with a flurry of activity in front of the net and Carlos Vela had a scoring opportunity on a direct free kick, but the ball hit the crossbar and ricocheted out of play. Hollingshead was subbed in for Aaron Long when he left with an apparent injury, and Cherundolo said after the match that it was a precautionary move.
Hollingshead’s disallowed goal came in the 85th minute when the defender’s shot went bar-down from the left side. It would have been his second goal of the season.
Eldin Jakupovic had two saves in his second start for LAFC. McIntosh finished with six saves for SKC in his first start of the season.
LAFC continues its MLS regular season slate with a home match against San Jose on Saturday night. The two teams met earlier this month, with San Jose winning, 2-1.
“Any game we play, we want to win,” Cherundolo said. “That’s the mindset. For the next two days, it’s about recovery and then we will talk about San Jose and our previous match is still fresh in our minds.”
LAFC missed a chance to join the 2001-02 San Jose Earthquakes as the only MLS teams to post 14 wins in a span of 15 regular-season matches at home. … Sporting KC has scored six goals in its last three matches, going 2-0-1, after going winless and totaling just three goals through the first 10 this season. … Sporting KC snapped a three-match losing streak against LAFC, which leads the all-time series 5-4-1. LAFC has scored 16 goals in its five wins, but just five goals in the other five meetings.
LAFC will host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
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