Five years into its existence, Los Angeles Football Club won its first MLS Cup defeating Philadelphia Union in a penalty shootout with the result of 3-0 at the Banc of California Stadium on Saturday.
In one of the best finals in MLS history, the game was full of mixed emotions as both teams were looking to clinch their first ever MLS trophy.
Going into the game, LAFC had a nervy start, while Philadelphia Union was in control in the opening minutes.
In the 28th minute, LAFC opened the scoresheet when Acosta’s shot was deflected into the net by Jack McGlynn.
After a decent first half, Philadelphia Union began to dominate and equalized when Jose Martinez long-range shot found Daniel Gazdag and scored his 24th goal right behind the LAFC backline.
Ten minutes remaining of the second half Jesus Murillo header goal got LAFC back on track. But, his goal wasn’t enough as Union defender Jack Elliott ran into the penalty box unmarked and scored making the final more interesting.
With the result tied, 2-2. The game went into extra time. Ten minutes into the second half of extra time, Los Angeles FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau got sent off for running out of his box to tackle Union forward Cory Burke, who was on the brink to score. Not only did Crepeau get a red card, but also suffered a horrible leg injury that required him to be off the pitch in a cart.
After the Crepeau incident, the Union took the lead in the fourth minute of stoppage time with Elliott tap in goal in the six-yard box. After Elliott’s second goal, Gareth Bale who joined LAFC on June scored a crucial goal thanks to Diego Palacios who crossed the ball from the left side and Bale managed to reach the ball as he took Elliot down to the ground.
Following a great game of football it had to go in a penalty shootout. First LAFC player Christian Tello missed it thanks to a wonderful save from Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Next Gazdag slipped in his approach, sending the ball over the goal, before Denis Bouanga scored his penalty for LAFC. Union player Jose Martinez had an opportunity to equalize, But Crepeau replacement John McCarthy saved it keeping LAFC hopes alive.
LAFC player Ryan Hollingshead scored the second penalty for LAFC. While Union continued to miss another penalty through Kai Wegner following a great save from Martinez.
Llie Sanchez penalty goal was enough for LAFC to finally win its first MLS championship with the result 3-0 on penalties with an overall score of 3-3.
The Best Final in MLS History?
Los Angeles Football Club and Philadelphia Union delivered one of the best games ever. Both teams were in a war zone and gave their all to win.
Following the afternoon rollercoaster- like pattern both teams gave a similar performance two years ago when LAFC drew to Union with the same result 3-3 before the pandemic.
“Just a roller coaster,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said.
Carlos Vela who did not had an impact in the game despite assisting Murillo goal, lifed his first ever MLS trophy in front of home supporters expressed his feelings about the game.
Despite Vela not performing at his best, he experienced mixed moments as an LAFC player but he delivered what he promised.
“It was like a Halloween movie,” Vela said, “and we finished with a Hollywood movie.”
Not only LAFC and Union experience an amazing final, the whole of MLS won’t ever forget a moment like this.