LAFC vs. Philadelphia Union – Football Match Report – November 5, 2022

LOS ANGELES – LAFC won its first-ever MLS Cup title, beating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties after a thrilling roller-coaster final at Banc of California Stadium ended 3-3 after extra time on Saturday .

Substitute goalkeeper John McCarthy was in just his second appearance for the club, LAFC’s hero, coming off the bench late in extra time to save two penalties in the shootout against his hometown club.

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Just minutes earlier, Philadelphia looked to have won the trophy for the first time when Jack Elliott scored his second goal of the game from close range in stoppage time at the end of extra time. By then, LAFC were down to 10 men after a red card for goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau minutes earlier.

But Welsh star Gareth Bale, coming off the bench in extra time, miraculously equalized for LAFC in the 128th minute with the youngest goal in MLS history.

It followed a similarly breathless end to regulation time.

Jesus Murillo gave LAFC a 2-1 lead with seven minutes left in regulation, but Philadelphia equalized almost immediately through Elliott’s first goal.

All four goals in regulation time came from set pieces, with Kellyn Acosta giving LAFC a 27th-minute lead with a deflected free kick before Daniel Gazdag equalized for the Union after a half-corner.

The result means LAFC becomes the first team since Toronto FC in 2017 to win both the Supporters’ Shield, as the best regular season team, and the MLS Cup. Saturday marked the first time since 2003 that the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences faced off in MLS’ showpiece game.

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Midfielder Ilie Sanchez scored the winning penalty for LAFC in the shootout, after successful efforts by Denis Bouanga and Ryan Hollingshead. Philadelphia failed to find the back of the net from the spot, with McCarthy diving to deny Jose Martinez and Kai Wagner, and Gazdag slipping and sending his effort high over the bar.

“For the first 10, 15 minutes it was a Halloween movie,” Carlos Vela said of watching from the bench after replacing Bale in the 97th minute. “And then we finish with a Hollywood movie.”

Several hours earlier, the game had begun with little indication of the thrill ride to come.

However, there was more than an element of luck about the game’s opening goal in the 28th minute.

Martinez, who always lived on the edge of the Philadelphia midfield, conceded a reckless foul just over 20 yards from goal and had to pay when Acosta’s right-footed effort took a nasty deflection off the head of Jack McGlynn in the Union -wall and left goalkeeper took off. Andre Blake was stranded as it found the corner of the net.

The tempo of the game picked up almost immediately as LAFC saw a chance to extend its lead before halftime. As he has done so often this season, Blake came up big to keep Philadelphia alive, closing from the point to deny Diego Palacios’ volley.

Philadelphia finally created a chance of their own in the 43rd minute, only for a sensational last-ditch challenge from LAFC’s fourth-choice centre-back Sebastien Ibeagha – replacing Giorgio Chiellini – to take the ball away from Mikkel Uhre as he wore down on the goal.

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Despite going a goal down at half-time in a cauldron-like atmosphere on the road, the Union were undeterred. Within 15 minutes of the second half, the game was tied.

Again the goal came from a set-piece and again there was an element of luck. Martinez was also involved again. This time his ambitious shot to a corner that broke more than 35 yards out to him went perfectly into the path of Gazdag, who expertly turned before finishing high into the net.

The Hungary international’s 24th goal of the season restored parity and set up a close-fought final 30 minutes as the LAFC fans turned up the volume again to encourage their team to find a winner.

Yet no one could have foreseen how dramatic the final would turn out to be.

The breathless action started in the 83rd minute. Murillo rose highest at the near post to head emphatically past Blake from captain Vela’s point in the swinging corner right in front of the LAFC supporters section as it erupted with the expectation that the trophy would remain in LA.

The joy would last less than two minutes. Another set piece and more lax defending allowed Elliott to meet a free kick from Wagner and beat Crepeau, though the LAFC keeper got a glove for it.

Crepeau’s true place in the drama was yet to come. With 110 minutes on the clock, the Canada player raced out of his box to try and prevent Union striker Cory Burke from getting on the end of a short back pass. But in doing so he both cost himself a red card, following a VAR review, and suffered a serious leg injury that required several minutes of treatment and a cart to take him off the field to take.

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For Crepeau, the injury probably also means the end of his World Cup hopes.

“I saw his face, and we saw his emotion,” said McCarthy, who won the MLS Cup MVP award. “For me it’s the play of the game. If he slips and misses, then it’s 3-2 and who knows how the game will end.

“He made a big decision by coming out and making that play. I’m devastated for him because it’s a serious injury and it looks like he’s going to miss the World Cup. You don’t come out of this game for a plaster.”

When Elliott put the Union ahead for the first time in the 124th minute, there was no going back for the hosts, even as the fans who have made the Banc of California one of MLS’s best venues since the team’s entry into the league. in 2018 they tried to encourage again.

However, with a superstar like Bale on the pitch, there is always a chance.

And the 33-year-old, who has played sparingly since joining Real Madrid in the summer, more than lived up to his hype with an equalizer that, combined with McCarthy’s saves, will live long in LAFC history.

“This place deserves it,” said first-year coach Steve Cherundolo, who engineered the big turnaround from a team that missed the postseason last year. “These fans are amazing. They deserve a cup, and they got it.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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