After an eventful week leading up to Saturday’s match with LA Galaxy, Teemu Pukki was ready to throw a much-needed goal-scoring party. He would help lead the Loons to a resounding 5-2 victory over LA with a club record 4-goal performance and in so doing, earn a spot in MLS Team of the Matchday lineup for week 37, alongside the sensational Bongokhule Hlongwane, who put together another hard-fought effort.
Pukki’s huge night came at a time when the Loons absolutely needed it the most, as both MNUFC and the Galaxy were fighting for their playoff lives in a tightly contested Western Conference. He would kick off the party just before half with a goal in the 45th minute and carry that momentum over into the second half, as he would up the ante and register a hat-trick for the half. As the Loons biggest acquisition in 2023, Pukki recent form has proven why he’s rightfully earned his reputation as a dangerous scoring striker, and his performance Saturday was even bigger when you consider that it keeps MNUFC’s playoff hopes alive going into Decision Day.
One reason that Pukki was able to make good on his opportunities was due to Hlongwane’s impressive showing against LA, in which he would register assists for 2 out of 4 of Pukki’s scores. And, as he does so often, Bongi was end-to-end all night, helping the Loons attack keep the pressure on the Galaxy’s backline and goalkeeper Jonathan Bond for a majority of the evening. Additionally, the help he was able to provide the Loons backline was incredibly valuable in preventing LA from getting back in the game, as he would challenge for the ball all evening.
Congratulations, Pukki and Bongi! A well-timed, well-deserved honor for our fellas!
Here's the lineup for Team of the Matchday Week 37:
F: Dénis Bouanga (LAFC), Teemu Pukki (MIN), Nelson Quiñónes (HOU)
M: Carles Gil (NE), Mathieu Choinière (MTL), Ashley Westwood (CLT), Luquinhas (RBNY)
D: Álvaro Barreal (CIN), Miles Robinson (ATL), Kyle Duncan (RBNY)
GK: Yohei Takaoka (VAN)
Coach: Christian Lattanzio (CLT)
Bench: Joe Willis (NSH), Damion Lowe (PHI), Erik Thommy (SKC), Mateusz Klich (DC), Héctor Herrera (HOU), Iván Angulo (ORL), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (MIN), Kwadwo Opoku (MTL), Cucho Hernández (CLB)