The Columbus Crew only needed two goals to claim the 2023 MLS Cup in a thriller over 2022 champion LAFC Saturday.
The 2-1 win at Columbus’ home stadium gave the franchise its third MLS Cup.
Two of those titles have come in the last four seasons. Columbus advanced to the 2015 title game but lost to the Portland Timbers. The LA Galaxy’s five titles are still the most for an MLS franchise.
Saturday’s win capped the Crew’s impressive turnaround this season. After winning the 2020 MLS Cup, Columbus missed the playoffs the next two seasons. The franchise has since undergone significant changes, including the hiring of Wilfried Nancy as the team’s head coach.
Cucho Hernandez scored in the 33rd minute, and Yaw Yeboah added a goal in the 37th. Denis Bouanga scored for LAFC in the 74th minute.
Hernandez put Columbus up 1-0 on a penalty kick. He deposited the ball in the lower left corner for his fifth goal in six playoff matches this season.
LAFC defender Diego Palacios was whistled for a handball off his right arm at the top of the box, setting up the penalty.
Yeboah doubled the lead when Malte Amundsen threaded a pass through to Yeboah on the left flank.
From there, Yeboah dribbled to the goal box and slipped a shot past goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.
The objective for the Crew in the second half was to avoid the same fate as FC Cincinnati a week earlier in the Eastern Conference final. Columbus rallied in that game from a two-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes of regulation and won 3-2 in extra time.
Bouanga made it 2-1, scoring on his own rebound after Patrick Schulte made a save at the left post. Bouanga, who led the MLS with 20 goals, has 38 goals in 49 matches in all competitions this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.