LAFC forward Dénis Bouanga captured the 2023 MLS Golden Boot, as his goal-frenzy in the last three games of the regular season sealed his position at the top of the scoring charts.
Bouanga impressed since stepping foot in MLS, amassing a staggering 36 goals and 15 assists in 53 appearances across all competitions for the Black and Gold. More specifically, the 28-year-old has been on a tear this season, scoring 20 goals in 34 appearances to claim the crown as the league’s top goal scorer.
The Gabon international’s 2023 campaign couldn’t have started any better, scoring three goals and two assists in his four league appearances. But what really helped him secure the award was his end-of-the-season form.
Bouanga made sure that the top-scoring award was coming home after netting a first-half hat trick against Minnesota United, a brace vs Austin FC (both were wins for LAFC), and his team’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps on Decision Day in Matchday 38.
The Golden Boot race came down to the wire, as Bouanga last-minute flurry of goals beat MVP frontrunner Lucho Acosta and Giorgos Giakoumakis to the trophy, as both players finished their seasons on 17 goals each.
While Acosta is the favorite to take home the MVP award, Bouanga shouldn’t be dismissed easily. Acosta has contributed 14 assists to go along with 17 goals (31 G/A), but Bouanga has tallied seven assists of his own to bring his goal involvements to 27 in 2023. There’s an argument to be made about how vital Bouanga is for LAFC like Acosta is for FC Cincinnati.
The 2022 MLS Cup champions appear to be hitting their stride at the right time, as two wins and a draw in their final three games of the regular season sees them finish in third place in the Western Conference table with 52 points. The third place finish sets them up for a best-of-three playoffs series clash with the Whitecaps, with game one set for October 1 at BMO Stadium.
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