MLS Cup 2022 ends in shootout as Union fall to LAFC
The Philadelphia Union fought valiantly but lost the MLS Cup to the LAFC in a match for the ages.
MLS Cup lives up to billing as the ultimate match
The game started off with all the makings of a classic. LAFC fought hard to withstand early pressure from Union for the first 45’.The Union kept the ball in the LAFC end for the majority of the first half. Ultimately they could not break through as LAFC’s stout defense kept the Union out. The entire match was highlighted by dramatic goals, as LAFC took the lead twice only to be met with two equalizers from the Philadelphia Union, one of which, sent the match into extra time.
In spite of the efforts of the Union offense, LAFC struck first. Andre Blake was beat on a free kick from Kellyn Acosta at 27’. A bank shot off the head of Jack McGlynn.
The Union continued to keep pressure on the LAFC but found themselves stymied repeatedly. LAFC led going into the half. Finally at 58′ Union sniper Daniel Gazdag found the net to get the game even with a beautifully placed kick. And with that there was a brand new game in LA.
The LAFC attack kept up the pressure, keeping the Union defense on their heels. They eventually evened the game to take the lead on a goal from Jesus Murillo. But not for long. The Union’s Jack Elliot scored on a dramatic header at 85’ to even the score.
With that it became apparent to anyone that was watching that this game would not be won in regulation. Stoppage time heroics would be required to win this MLS Cup final.
Stoppage time goals traded
In the second half of extra time, LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau charged off his line in attempt to stop Corey Burke. That didn’t really work out well for Crepeau, who was injured badly and issued a red card for his challenge. LAFC was left with just 10 players on the field and their backup goalie, John McCarthy in-between the goal posts.
McCarthy, of course, also happens to be from Philadelphia.
The Union seemed to have victory in their grasp when Jack Elliot scored the go ahead goal at 123′ in stoppage time. Elliot seemed destined to be the hero of the day.
The fairytale ending for The Union was not destined to be. LAFC hired gun Gareth Bale elevated above Elliot mere moments later to provide the equalizer, forcing the MLS champion to be determined by penalty kicks.
It set up a showdown for the ages to determine the winner of the MLS Cup final. MLS Goalkeeper of the year: Andre Blake in net for the Union. For the LAFC, late game substitution John McCarthy stood in goal. After two hours of play a mere five kicks stood between both teams and glory. To the chagrin of the Union, John McCarthy stood tall. Andre Blake was beat on three consecutive kicks to end the Union’s season.
It was a bitter end to a season full of promise. Had the teams been allowed to play on the pitch to determine the MLS Cup winner, who knows what could have happened. But as with the rules that granted the Supporters’ Shield to the LAFC in spite of taking more losses on the season than the Union, the way things broke ultimately favored LAFC.
LAFC gets to bask in championship glory. They earned it. Now the Union and coach Jim Curtin must pick up the pieces and prepare for next year.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo