In a thrilling showdown at rain-soaked Lower.com Field, the Columbus Crew showcased their trademark possession-oriented gameplay, clinching the MLS Cup 2023 presented by Audi in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over LAFC.
Under the helm of head coach Wilfried Nancy, the Crew orchestrated a dazzling performance on Saturday, marking their third MLS Cup triumph in history. The goals in the first half, courtesy of Cucho Hernández (33′) and Yaw Yeboah (37′), provided Columbus with a comfortable lead, despite Dénis Bouanga’s (74′) late attempt to keep LAFC’s MLS Cup aspirations alive.
Nancy’s squad embarked on this journey back during the MLS is Back weekend on Feb. 25, culminating in their triumphant ascent atop the 29-team league.
Cucho Hernández’s authoritative penalty kick paved the way for Columbus to claim the coveted Philip F. Anschutz Trophy. His stellar performance not only secured the win but also earned him the prestigious MLS Cup MVP presented by Audi honors, capping off his remarkable tally of five goals in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The penalty opportunity arose when referee Armando Villarreal spotted a handball by LAFC defender Diego Palacios off a touch from Diego Rossi.
The Crew, known for their prolific scoring in 2023, swiftly doubled their advantage through Yaw Yeboah. The left wingback capitalized on an impressive 11-pass sequence orchestrated by Malte Amundsen, delivering a stunning outside-the-foot finish past LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.
Despite Columbus’ dominance, Bouanga showcased his resilience, slipping a second-effort shot past goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. This effort drew him level with teammate Carlos Vela for the most calendar-year goals (38) in MLS across all competitions, matching Vela’s MVP-winning record in 2019.