Two Western Conference-based stars strengthened their Landon Donovan MLS MVP résumés in Matchday 32, prompting Team of the Matchday presented by Audi selections.
LAFC winger Dénis Bouanga’s brace helped deliver a 4-2 El Tráfico win over the LA Galaxy, ending the defending champion’s three-game losing skid. Vancouver Whitecaps FC maestro Ryan Gauld had an assist (fourth straight game with a goal contribution) and dominated both ends of the pitch in a 2-1 win at Toronto FC. Where will Bouanga and Gauld fall on year-end awards ballots?
Three imported strikers were immense for their squads: Aaron Boupendza (FC Cincinnati), Ramiro Enrique (Orlando City SC) and Felipe Mora (Portland Timbers). Boupendza came off the bench to score and set up another as the Supporters’ Shield leaders rallied for a 2-2 draw at the Philadelphia Union; Enrique’s brace handed the Cardiac Cats a dramatic 4-3 win over the Columbus Crew; and Mora’s opportunistic strike and delightful chested assist powered a 2-1 win at Austin FC.
To complete the midfield line, super-sub Gadi Kinda’s slaloming run-and-finish earned Sporting Kansas City a vital 1-0 win at Minnesota United FC. Meanwhile, Orlando’s Martín Ojeda had 1g/1a as the Lions reached 4W-0L-1D since Leagues Cup ended and surged to second in the Eastern Conference/overall table.
San Jose Earthquakes center back Rodrigues (1g/0a) headed home the winner in a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake, ending a four-game winless stretch. Seattle Sounders FC homegrown Reed Baker-Whiting stepped up at left back, delivering his first-ever MLS assist in a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas. And Atlanta United right back Brooks Lennon (1g/1a) proved a dual-threat, lashing home the game-winner in a 5-2 rout of Inter Miami CF.
Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Chris Brady (CHI) - Reed Baker-Whiting (SEA), Rodrigues (SJ), Brooks Lennon (ATL) - Dénis Bouanga (LAFC), Ryan Gauld (VAN), Gadi Kinda (SKC), Martín Ojeda (ORL) - Aaron Boupendza (CIN), Ramiro Enrique (ORL), Felipe Mora (POR)
Coach: Gonzalo Pineda (ATL)
Bench: Kristijan Kahlina (CLT), Donovan Pines (DC), Ryan Hollingshead (LAFC), Tristan Muyumba (ATL), Cole Bassett (COL), Cristian Espinoza (SJ), João Klauss (STL), Leonardo Campana (MIA), Cucho Hernández (CLB)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $200 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.