LOS ANGELES — The MLS Cup Final took place over 2,000 miles northeast of BMO Stadium, yet hundreds of fans and supporters still showed up to the venue for the official LAFC watch party Saturday afternoon.
Those in attendance went through the sports fan’s equivalent of the five stages of grief during the 90 minutes of play, which ultimately ended with a 2-1 win for the Columbus Crew, the club’s third MLS Cup victory. Meanwhile LAFC failed to become the first MLS club to repeat as champions since 2012 and became the first team in MLS history to lose in three finals in one calendar year.
Adjacent to the stadium is The Fields, a two story dining hall and arcade on game-days where the watch party was held.
Fans brought drums, cheered and chanted for the entirety of the match, bringing the game day atmosphere while still watching the game on TV.
Those cheers and chants quickly turned into groans and sighs after Columbus scored twice in less than five minutes of game time to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
MLS Golden Boot Winner, Denis Bouanga would ensure LAFC wouldn’t make the trip back home scoreless, netting a goal in the 74th to cut the deficit in half, but that was all LAFC had left to give.
The result means a (major) trophy-less 2023 for the Black and Gold, whiffing during the US Open Cup, Leagues Cup, Concacaf Champions League, Campeones Cup and now the MLS Cup competitions, losing in the final of the latter three.
Despite this, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo had a positive outlook when he said “this season was a success for us regardless of the result tonight.”
The Sporting Tribune’s Henry Tran captured the scene: