LAFC’s statement win in Leagues Cup over FC Juárez, 7-1, shows firepower

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
LAFC trounced La Liga MX club FC Juárez 7-1 in their opening match of the Leagues Cup.

LOS ANGELES — Any doubts of whether the 2022 MLS Cup champions had any firepower left in their arsenal after a stalling this summer were squelched Wednesday night at BMO Stadium.

In a statement return to competitive play, LAFC trounced La Liga MX club FC Juárez 7-1 in their opening match of the Leagues Cup. Not only was it a resounding victory, the seven goals scored was a new club record and the most by any team in the competition to date. Denís Bouanga registered a hat trick and added an assist, while their captain Carlos Vela scored a brace and an assist days after hinting at his inevitable retirement. Ryan Hollingshead opened the scoring for LAFC, while Nathan Ordaz scored the final goal for the Black and Gold in the 90th minute which was also his first-ever goal for the club.  

The revitalized lineup had an 18-day break to rest, regroup and refocus their goals for the remainder of the year before they hit the pitch running yesterday evening. “Any time you have a break from competition athletes get bored with training. They need games. They need competition. I was hoping for that reaction,” head coach Steve Cherundolo bluntly stated in his post-match press conference. “It is our ambition to go as far as possible in this tournament.”

After all, a top three finish in the tournament would ensure a second chance, a spot in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup, allowing them to officially vanquish their own lingering sentiments around that Cup which has slipped through their fingers twice.

After a 30-minute stalemate, LAFC struck the first goal when Kellyn Acosta struck a ball from outside the box that deflected off Ryan Hollingshead straight into the net. Just two minutes afterwards, Vela got his first goal of the evening on the scoresheet as he lofted a chip shot over him and into the back of the net to double LAFC’s lead heading into halftime. In the 47th minute, Juárez were able to cut their goal deficit in half when Amaury Escoto pulled one back off a corner kick.

Rather than signaling a chance for the visitors to equalize, instead the goal ignited LAFC’s flame that burned throughout the rest of the match. In the 52nd minute, Denís Buoanga slammed home his follow-up to his failed header to extend LAFC’s lead back to two goals. Less than ten minutes later, Vela got his brace in the 61st minute behind his trusty left foot. Then, just five minutes later, the two leaders combined as Vela sent a no-look pass to a running Bouanga who wasted no time scoring his second goal of the match.  A penalty late in the match allowed LAFC to add their sixth goal, completing Bouanga’s hat trick, his third feat of the year across all competitions. Last, but not least, the 19-year-old homegrown substitute Ordaz slotted home his first-ever goal for LAFC, the final goal of the night in the 90th minute.

It may arguably have been LAFC’s most convincing performance of the year. “It was a long break. A lot of time to regroup, get bodies healthy, scout opponents, work on some things. So, it felt good to get out there and get a big win,” defender Aaron Long mused. LAFC now advances to the Leagues Cup Round of 16 on August 8, where they will face the winner of Thursday night’s game between Liga MX side León and Real Salt Lake.