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We’re going to the ‘ship!: LAFC 3, Austin FC 0

A huge shutout win at home punches the ticket to the team's first-ever MLS Finals appearance

Courtesy of Brenton Tse

The day has arrived. The biggest match of LAFC’s season, and honestly, of their short history. Sure, they've reached the Western Conference Finals once before, but this time is much more different. The squad this time around was built, very specifically, for this moment. The mood is no longer that of an expansion side just happy to have immediate success, but of a club looking to secure a much-needed first MLS Cup. First, they'd have to go through an Austin FC side that loves nothing more than beating the black-and-gold every chance they get.

It didn't take long for the home side to strike and draw first blood. The team came out firing from the off, and were the more dangerous side for pretty much all of the first half. That aggression paid off in the 29th minute, when a perfectly placed corner kick found Chicho Arango in the box. As we’ve seen so many times this season, he only needed one invitation to slam it home with a header for the early lead.

While the team only scored once in the first half, their dominance was on full display in the first half. The team went into the break with a staggering 16 shots while Austin only managed to get off one shot. LAFC found the target six times — with one resulting in the goal — as well as racked up seven corner kicks to Austin's single set-piece. Again, despite the absolute dominance from LAFC, they went into the halftime break with just a goal lead.

We’ve seen LAFC find a second-half surge for most of the season, but Austin FC is another side who seems to find a different level when coming out of the break. Now, more than ever before, it was time for LAFC to slam the door shut with a few more goals to seal the deal and punch their ticket to the Finals.

The team came out for the second half, much like the first. Feeding off the frantic energy from their home supporters, LAFC got another corner kick in the second half, and took full advantage of it. In the 62nd minute, Carlos Vela put on another perfect strike from the corner flag. The ball bounced a bit, then deflected off an Austin FC player, and into the back of the net for the second goal of the day. It may not have been pretty, but its a goal all the same, and it extended the team's lead in the final 45.

To further solidify their dominance, LAFC leaned on the young superstar, Mahala Opoku, who was able to extend the lead even more in the 81st minute. A lofted ball into the box bounced high enough for Opoku to get under, control, and unleash a shot from distance. The ball went past the keeper for his first playoff goal, punching the team’s ticket to the MLS Cup Final in the process.

The win was as impressive a performance as we've seen from LAFC this season. From kickoff, they were by far the better side and it showed in the scoreline. Despite having success against the black-and-gold during the regular season, Austin couldn't match the energy from the home side. This was a vengeance match for LAFC, having been unceremoniously been eliminated in the 2019 WCF. Now, the team is on the doorstep of achieving the goal that was set forth well before the start of the season. They stand just 90 minutes away from glory.