Denis Bouanga records brace, Los Angeles FC eliminate Austin FC

Denis Bouanga had a brace and an assist and had a hand in another goal as visiting Los Angeles FC rolled past Austin FC 4-2 on Saturday in a key late-season Western Conference match.

LAFC (14-10-9, 51 points) moved closer to securing the second seed in the West while clinching a top four position and earning home-pitch advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The defending league champions improved to 3-1-2 over their past six MLS matches.

The loss eliminated Austin FC (10-15-8, 38 points) from playoff consideration. The Verde have one win in their past 12 matches over Leagues Cup and MLS play.

LAFC jumped on the home side early in the match and never let up. Timothy Tillman found the net in the 13th minute with a shot to the bottom-left corner after corralling a determined pass into the box from Bouanga.

Bouanga had a chance to add to the lead with a shot on goal that was stopped by Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver in the 35th minute and then missed the goal on an excellent opportunity a minute late.

Cristian Olivera drew a penalty in the box when he was fouled by Austin's Leo Vaisanen and earned a shot from the spot for Bouanga, who beat Stuver in the first minute of first-half stoppage time expand the LAFC lead to 2-0 at the break.

Bouanga was again in the spotlight as he ran to the far post in the 54th minute, beat Austin defender Jon Gallagher to a pass from Mateusz Bogusz and punched it into the net to secure his brace and push the lead to 3-0.

Bouanga now has a league-best 19 goals in 30 MLS games.

Then in the 68th minute, Bouanga carried the ball deep into the Austin zone before ripping a shot off Stuver that landed right at the feet of Olivera, who made short work of his chance to make it 4-0.

Austin produced a window-dressing goal from Vaisanen in the 75th minute off an assist from Daniel Pereira. Vaisanen jumped and headed the pass from Pereira off the back of his head to at least provide a highlight goal for the Verde.

Austin also got a late goal when LAFC's Giorgio Chiellini surrendered an own goal in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.

--Field Level Media