(Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles FC put a three-match skid in the rearview mirror and now aim to close the gap on first-place St. Louis City when the top two teams in the Western Conference meet on Wednesday night in St. Louis.
LAFC (12-9-7, 43 points) are six points behind St. Louis City (15-10-4, 49 points) in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the West. LAFC also have a match in hand, with six remaining compared to five for St. Louis.
LAFC halted their slide with a solid 4-2 home win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Star forward Denis Bouanga scored two of the goals.
"Now the next step is to gain confidence and to build confidence and to keep growing on that," LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said after the victory. "And we'll make sure that the little foundation we built over the past couple weeks gets added to it, and this victory (Saturday) helps greatly."
LAFC won the first meeting versus St. Louis City 3-0 at home on July 12. Carlos Vela, Stipe Biuk and the since-departed Jose Cifuentes scored the goals.
St. Louis is coming off a 1-1 road draw with the Houston Dynamo. Joao Klauss got St. Louis the tie with a goal in the 87th minute.
"You can see the qualities he possesses," St. Louis City coach Bradley Carnell said of Klauss. "He's a real holdup striker with skill, speed and savviness."
Carnell viewed the goal as being doubly important as St. Louis finds itself on a three-match (0-1-2) winless streak.
"The point is in the bank and we move on," Carnell said of the tie. "We've got a very important game on Wednesday at home in front of our fans and my group is hungry.
"We just push each other as hard as we can, and strive for the best possible results game in and game out. Some results might not go our way, but we want to know that we've given everything."
Nicholas Gioacchini has scored a team-leading 10 goals with Samuel Adeniran and Klauss tied for second with seven.
Meanwhile, Bouanga has scored 14 goals for LAFC and is tied for the league lead with reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC and Giorgos Giakoumakis of Atlanta United.
Bouanga failed to score in five straight MLS matches before finding the back of the net on both his shots on Saturday.
"Sometimes attackers go through these phases and Denis has a lot of quality," Cherundolo said. "He's shown this time and time again."
--Field Level Media