Los Angeles FC advanced to the MLS Cup final for the first time in the club’s history on Sunday, cruising to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Austin in the Western Conference final.
A first-half goal from Colombian striker Cristian Arango, a second-half own goal from Austin’s Maxi Urruti and a late strike from Kwadwo Opoku sealed victory for Los Angeles at the Banc of California Stadium.
Los Angeles, an expansion team that joined Major League Soccer in 2018, will face either holders New York City or Philadelphia Union in next Saturday’s MLS Cup championship match.
LA coach Steve Cherundolo’s side will head into the final — which will be played at LAFC’s home ground — brimming with confidence after Sunday’s composed victory.
Los Angeles almost took the lead on 17 minutes when Jesus Murillo’s ball over the top caught the Austin back four cold, allowing Jose Cifuentes to latch onto the pass and shoot, only for his effort from a tight angle to cannon back off the post.
Los Angeles went close again on 28 minutes when Mexico international Carlos Vela’s superb through ball found Denis Bouanga, who rounded the advancing Brad Stuver but saw his shot from an acute angle blocked behind for a corner.
The goal that Los Angeles had been threatening duly arrived from the ensuing set-piece, however, with Vela swinging in an inviting corner for Arango to head home.
Los Angeles almost took a decisive advantage shortly before half-time, with Cifuentes’s shot from just outside the area well saved by Stuver on 43 minutes.
Austin started with more purpose in the second half, but a flurry of quick corners amounted to nothing, and soon Los Angeles were back on top.
Vela came within a whisker of doubling the hosts’ lead but couldn’t get enough on a glancing header from Bouanga’s cross.
Moments later, right back Ryan Hollingshead worked a clever one-two on the edge of the area and unleashed a ferocious effort that Stuver did well to save.
Arango then squandered two golden opportunities after being played into space as Austin breathed again.
In the 62nd minute, though, the relentless Los Angeles pressure finally paid off.
Vela’s in-swinging corner caused confusion in the six-yard box and Austin substitute Urruti headed into his own net to put Los Angeles 2-0 up.
In the 81st minute, substitute Opoku gathered a hopeful ball forward and swept a low shot past Stuver for 3-0.
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