Denís Bouanga powers LAFC to dramatic draw against New York Red Bull

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Their second consecutive draw pushes LAFC up to 6th place in the Western Conference.

LOS ANGELES — A gripping 95th minute equalizer from Denís Bouanga secured a point for LAFC who played the New York Red Bulls to a 2-2 draw at BMO Stadium on Saturday as the Golden Boot winner tallied a brace that quieted critics wary of his shaky finishing touches. The match was also his second brace of the season.

The resulting tie, their second consecutive draw, pushed LAFC up to 6th place in the Western Conference and kept the Red Bulls, now unbeaten in five, are in 2nd place in the East. “Going down a goal early after a set piece after an injury is never easy, but I think the boys shook it off pretty well, got themselves back in the game,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo explained in his post-match review.

LAFC began their evening on the wrong foot, as a forced early substitution snowballed into an accidentally misplaced header from Eddie Segura in the 8th minute off a corner kick from John Tolkin after former NYRB defender Aaron Long suffered a right leg injury when he collided with the goalpost defending Dante Vanzeir in the 5th minute.

Both sides traded barbs for the remainder of the first half but neither broke through. The Black and Gold finally scored in the 67th minute after Bouanga was awarded a penalty kick after being fouled by Red Bull’s Sean Nealis in the box. He easily converted the free kick and brought a downtrodden team back to life. Still, the Red Bulls weren’t finished yet. Another corner kick from Tolkin led to a goal for the visitors as Emil Forsberg scored in the 81st minute giving his side a 2-1 lead.

Once again, LAFC countered with the feisty fighting spirit they often display while playing at home. Bouanga, emboldened by his earlier goal, scored his second goal in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time. Yet, even with merely two minutes remaining, New York pushed for another but Elias Manoel’s effort his the crossbar. “The second half response was very good. Chasing a game like that is difficult,” Cherundolo said, as he reflected upon his team’s overall performance.

LAFC next play at home on Saturday, April 27, against the Portland Timbers who they tied on April 13 also 2-2 at Providence Park.

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