LAFC's stout defence faces Crew's high-powered attack in MLS Cup final

football07 December 2023 18:12| © Reuters
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Maxime Crepeau © Gallo Images

Defending champions LAFC's defence, led by goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, will face their stiffest test yet when they take on Columbus Crew's high-octane attack on the road in Saturday's MLS Cup final.

Crepeau broke his right leg during a goal-saving collision in last year's final in LA and was forced to watch his team celebrate their first championship over FaceTime from a hospital bed.

He returned after a nine-month rehabilitation process and has been sensational in the postseason, not conceding a goal in LAFC's last three playoff games and making seven saves in the conference semifinals against Seattle.

"I can't even really describe in words what happened last year," LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta told reporters this week.

"For him to put his body on the line for the sake of the team, he's a selfless guy. But to see his journey to come back, he's fought so hard... We're all super proud of him and happy to have him back and healthy."

For LAFC to become the first team to retain the MLS Cup since LA Galaxy in 2012 they will need to hold off a hyper aggressive Crew attack led by Cucho Hernandez, Christian Ramirez and Diego Rossi.

Under head coach Wilfried Nancy, in his first season in charge, the squad's risk-taking attack scored more goals than any other team during the regular season (67) and postseason (13).

In front of a rowdy sold-out crowd at their new stadium, the Crew will look to capture their first MLS Cup since 2020, when attendance was greatly restricted by the pandemic, and third overall.

"It will be imperative that we have another outstanding defensive performance if we want to raise the trophy," LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said.

Which is not to say LAFC lacks firepower.

Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga leads a dangerous trio of his own that includes former league MVP Carlos Vela and new addition Cristian Olivera.

A win would book LAFC's place in next year's CONCACAF Champions Cup, while Columbus have already secured their spot in the tournament.

The 28th edition of the MLS Cup will kick off on Saturday at 4pm local time at Field in Ohio.