LOS ANGELES – LAFC won its first MLS Cup title, beating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties after a thrilling final at Banc o California Stadium on Saturday that ended 3- 3 after overtime.
Goalkeeper John McCarthy, in his second appearance for the club, was LAFC’s hero, coming off the bench after extra time and saving two penalties when shooting at his community.
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Just minutes earlier, Philadelphia found itself winning the league for the first time when Jack Elliott scored his second goal of the game from close range in stoppage time. of new time. At the time, LAFC was reduced to 10 men after a red card for goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau minutes earlier.
But Welsh star Gareth Bale, who came off the bench in extra time, made a stunning comeback for LAFC in the 128th minute with the latest goal in MLS history.
After the irregular breathing is over during the adjustment period.
Jesus Murillo put LAFC 2-1 ahead with seven minutes left in regulation, but Philadelphia equalized through Elliott’s first goal.
All four goals came in stoppage time, with Kellyn Acosta giving LAFC the lead on 27 minutes with a free kick before Daniel Gazdag headed home for the Union after a half-time corner was cleared. done.
As a result, LAFC became the first team since Toronto FC in 2017 to win the Supporters’ Shield, the best team of the regular season, and the MLS Cup. Saturday marked the first time since 2003 that the No. 1 seeds in the East and West faced off in an MLS exhibition contest.
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 net from the spot, with McCarthy diving to deny Jose Martinez and Kai Wagner, while Gazdag slipped and sent 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. “Then we end up with a Hollywood movie.”
A few hours earlier, the game had started with a little excitement going on.
It’s more of a good value, based on the opening goal of the game in the 28th minute.
Martinez, who was always on the flanks of Philadelphia’s midfield, conceded a reckless foul about 20 yards from goal and was rewarded when Acosta’s right-footed effort was deflected. that misdirected Jack McGlynn’s header into the Union box and left the keeper. Andre Blake landed to find the corner of the net.
The game was quickly extended as LAFC saw a chance to extend its lead just before the half hour mark. As he has done so often this season, Blake stepped up to keep Philadelphia alive, stopping from a point to deny Diego Palacios’ volley.
Philadelphia finally created a chance of their own in the 43rd minute, only for a last-ditch effort from LAFC’s back four Sebastien Ibeagha – playing in place of Giorgio Chiellini – to take the ball from Mikkel Uhre in his delivery. down to the goal.
Despite going into half-time a goal down in an atmosphere like an iron pot on the road, the Union did not collapse. Within 15 minutes of the second half, the game was level.
The goal came again from a set piece and gained another element of success. Martinez re-entered. This time his shot after a corner broke to him from 35 yards went straight into the path of Gazdag, who turned smartly before finishing in the net.
The Hungary international’s 24th goal of the season restored parity and set up a final 30 minutes as the LAFC supporters rose again to encourage their side to claim victory.
However, no one knows how big the effect will be.
The breathless action began in the 83rd minute. Murillo rose high at the near post to head past Blake from captain Vela’s corner which swung right in front of a section of LAFC supporters. when he burst with the idea of climbing living in LA.
The excitement will last less than two minutes. Another piece of organization and better defending allowed Elliott to meet a free kick from Wagner and beat Crepeau as the LAFC keeper got a glove on him.
Crepeau’s true place in the theater never came. With 110 minutes on the clock, the Canadian international ran from his box to try to prevent team-mate Cory Burke on the end of a short back pass. But in doing so, he bought himself a red card, after a VAR review, and suffered a serious leg injury that required minutes of treatment and a car to take off. him from the stage.
For Crepeau, the injury could mean the end of his World Cup hopes.
“I saw his face, and we saw his mind,” said McCarthy, who won the MLS Cup MVP award. “For me, that’s the game 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 doing that game. I felt bad for him, because it was a serious injury and it looked like he was going to miss the World Cup. No you come out of this game because. a Band-Aid.”
When Elliott put the Union ahead for the first time in the 124th minute, there was no way back for the host team, despite the supporters who made the Banc of California one of the best places of MLS since the club joined the league. in 2018 tried to encourage them again.
With a superstar like Bale on the field, however, there is always time.
And the 33-year-old, who has played sparingly since joining from Real Madrid in the summer, lived up to his hype with an equalizer which, combined with McCarthy’s saves, will live long in history. LAFC.
“This place deserves it,” said first-year coach Steve Cherundolo, who engineered a major turnaround by a team that missed the playoffs last year. “These fans are amazing. They deserve a trophy, and they got it.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.