MLS Cup 2022: Gareth Bale Helps LAFC Win First Title Over Philadelphia Union

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Los Angeles FC (LAFC) beat Philadelphia Union to win the 27th edition of the MLS Cup 2022.

MLS Cup 2022: Gareth Bale Helps LAFC Win The Major League Soccer Final

The game took place at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California, in the United States, on Saturday night, November 5, 2022.

The Philadelphia Union and Los Angeles FC, the hosts, competed to win the overall title of the 2022 soccer season campaign.

This was LAFC’s first-ever trip to the MLS Cup, and they made more progress than their lauded 2019 team, which lost to eventual champions Seattle Sounders FC at this same postseason round.

They were also the first team since Toronto FC in 2017 to win the Supporters’ Shield and advance to the MLS Cup in the same season, under the direction of first-year head coach Steve Cherundolo.

Philadelphia and LAFC fought for the Shield all season, with Philadelphia ultimately losing on the basis of wins (LAFC had 21 wins to Philadelphia’s 19) after both teams had accrued 67 points.

Jim Curtin’s team has been improving for a while, and their best chance came when they switched coasts to compete for the MLS Cup.

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During the MLS Cup 2022 final, Giorgio Chiellini, a former international for Italy, started the game on the bench, and Sebastien Ibeagha took his place in the center of defense.

The other summer star signing and non-starter for LAFC, Gareth Bale, was seated next to Chiellini, who left the field during halftime of the Western Conference final.

Ten minutes in, neither team had the upper hand. LAFC were upset when a corner kick that was clearly in play went uncalled.

Maxime Crepeau, the LAFC goalkeeper, stumbled on a cross and was fortunate that his team was unaffected.

Right-back Olivier Mbaizo of the Union received possession of the ball and attempted a long shot that was wildly off-target.

MLS Cup 2022: Gareth Bale Helps LAFC Win The Major League Soccer Final

Everyone expected Carlos Vela to take a free kick in the 28th minute, but Kellyn Acosta instead did so. Acosta’s ball bounced off Jack McGlynn’s head and went past goalkeeper Andre Blake.

A set piece for the Union landed directly to Daniel Gazdag, who had time to collect and finish in the box, giving Philadelphia a 56th-minute equalizer.

He has scored 17 goals in his last 18 games for Philadelphia.

Forward Mikael Uhre was replaced by Cory Burke in a like-for-like switch.

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In the 74th minute, Kwadwo Opoku replaced forward Chicho Arango; at that point of the game, Gareth Bale was still absent.

It seemed like the outcome of the game would be decided in the final ten minutes. Both teams’ attacking flow was lacking, making it difficult for both sides to establish any rhythm.

Just when we thought the match was going to be a one-all draw into extra time, Jesus Murillo scored a header putting LAFC in front in the 83rd minute.

But Philadelphia replied almost immediately with a header too from Jack Elliot after Kai Wagner delivered an awesome cross in the 85th minute.

With minutes left in regulation, LAFC had a 2-1 lead against the Union, but the latter wouldn’t go away, and with four minutes left, defender Jack Ellott leveled the game at 2-2 with a header to force extra time.

In the extra period, LAFC goalkeeper Crepeau left his box to stop Union attacker Cory Burke from sprinting for the goal in response to a poorly struck backpass.

Burke was eliminated by Crepeau, but he suffered a major injury in the process and had to be carried off the field while being given a red card for denying a clear-cut scoring opportunity.

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Going down a man was already a setback for LAFC, but Elliott scored again just minutes later to give the Union a 3-2 advantage in the final seconds of extra time. It appeared that Philadelphia would win the cup for the first time with a man advantage.

Bale who joined the game from the bench, foiled those intentions by tying the score at 3-3 with only a few seconds left in the extra period, sending Banc of California Stadium into a frenzy.

After the thrilling extra time which ended in a 3-3 draw, the match was forced into penalty shootouts. Interestingly, LAFC wanted the title more as all its players excelled except Cristian Tello. On the other hand, Philadelphia’s players missed all their penalties.

Hence, LAFC won the MLS Cup 2022 after beating Philadelphia 3-0 via penalties.

The two top teams in the league who matched for first place with the most regular-season points met in the MLS Cup 2022. Due to its victory in the season’s tiebreaker for most victories, LAFC was chosen to host the MLS Cup final.

With two saves against his former team, backup LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy—a Philadelphia native who replaced injured starter Maxime Crepeau—came out on top in the penalty shootout to gift his team the 2022 MLS Cup.

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