The Black and Gold Win The Cup

LAFC Win first MLS Cup in Franchise History.

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Photo by Major League Soccer

(FWD) Gareth Bale rushing toward the fans as he scored the equalizer in the final minutes of the match

Job finished! Los Angeles Football Club are your Audi 2022 MLS Cup Champions. LAFC defeated the Philadelphia Union in a penalty shootout to win the MLS Cup. After the match ended in a 3-3 draw, the game went to extra time and eventually penalties, where backup (GK) John McCarthy’s heroics won LAFC their first title in franchise history.

Before the match kicked off, both teams were coming into the game as the number one seed in their respective conferences. Philadelphia was number one in the East, and LAFC was number one in the West. The playoffs had been an easy road for both teams who steamrolled their opponents on the way to the final. Every player on both teams has been key to their success. Each side had a finalist for the Landon Donovan MVP Award, with Forward (FWD) Cristian “Chicho” Arango for LAFC and Goalkeeper (GK) Andre Blake for the Union. 

LAFC opened the scoring in the twenty-eighth minute as (MID) Kellyn Acosta ripped a free kick that took a deflection off of Union midfielder, (MID) Jack McGlynn, who headed it into the bottom left corner to give LAFC the lead 1-0. 

Before the half-time interval, LAFC continued to push the Union defense as they did against Austin FC the week earlier. LAFC increased the speed of their play by delivering an over-the-top pass to (FWD) Denis Bouanga to extend their lead to 2. However, Blake continued to keep the Union alive (like he’s done all season long.)

After the break, the Philadelphia Union finally got on the board. Just like LAFC’s set-piece goal, the Union struck just the same amount of good luck that LA did. Midfielder (MID) Jose Martinez, (who gave the foul away on the LAFC goal, found himself involved again. A poorly- hit shot found itself at the feet of (MID) Daniel Gazdag, who split the LAFC defensedefence and finished perfectly to level the scoring in the fifty-ninth minute.

The match was back and forth all game, up until the eighty-third minute whenre– (another set piece–) an LAFC corner led to what was thought to be the winner. Forward (FWD) Carlos Vela swung in a corner into the eighteen-yard box where Defender (DEF) Jesus Murillo beat his marker and rose to the height on the far goal post to put the ball in the back of the net, making it 2-1 LAFC.

However, the lead would only be celebrated for two minutes until the eight- fifth minute, as sloppy LAFC defending led to a Union equalizer. (DEF) Kai Wagner–again, from a set piece–sent in the perfect ball, from a free kick, to meet the head of (DEF) Jack Elliot to score. 

As the final whistle blew, extra time loomed on. The match continued to be back and forth until the one-hundred and tenth minute, as a good back pass found Union (FWD) Corey Burke. However, Los Angeles (GK) Maxime Crepeau rushed out of his box to prevent a one-on-one chance and took out the Union striker. 

Both players went down, with Crepeau signaling to the bench to send out the medical staff. The referee showed Crepeau a yellow card following the challenge. However, after Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervened and changed the decision to a red card. Crepeau had to come off injured anyway due to a serious leg injury which now makes him ineligible to play for Canada at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Former Philadelphia Union and backup LAFC (GK), John McCarthy, came on in place of the injured Crepeau to face his former team. Unfortunately for him, his former side took the lead in the one hundredth and twenty-fourth minute after a rebound found the foot of Jack Elliot to put the Union ahead 3-2. 

The game was set to be done and over with there until LAFC went bombing up the field on the last play of the game, where (DEF) Diego Palacios swung in a cross to the head of (FWD) Gareth Bale to equalize the game at three all. Bale, who had been subbed on in the ninety-seven minute for Captain Vela, was brought in from Spanish-giants Real Madrid for this exact moment: to put the team in a good position to win. A big-game player plays in big games, and he did just that.

Extra time came to an end, and both sets of goalies were getting set up for the penalty kicks. The LAFC supporter section began to sing “Oye Mi Amor” by Maná, electrifying the crowd even more. 

Both teams missed their first sets of penalties as LAFC (FWD) Christan Tello shot it straight into Blake’s hands, and Gazdag slipped and hit the ball over the bar. Bouanga scored his shot, and then penalty specialist McCarthy saved Martinez’s penalty. (DEF) Ryan Hollingshead scored, and McCarthy continued his heroics as Wagner got his penalty saved. Finally, (MID) Illie Sanchez stepped up to take the penalty to win LAFC their first MLS Cup in franchise history and… he scores! 

LAFC was crowned the 2022 Audi MLS Cup champions and became the first team since the 2017 Toronto FC to win both the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup. Penalty hero, John McCarthy, walked away with the MLS Cup MVP honors for his perfect performance in the penalty shootout. The team now looks toward their sixth season, which includes a Concacaf Champions League Round-of-16 berth as they face Costa Rican side Liga Deportiva Alajuelense in March of 2023. Congratulations on an amazing season for both teams.