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MLS Cup match report: Los Angeles FC 3-3 (3-0) Philadelphia Union

Photo: Stephen Speer

Los Angeles FC defeated Philadelphia Union 3-3 (3-0 PKs) in the MLS Cup Final on Saturday afternoon at Banc of California Stadium. In one of the most amazing MLS games in history, the home team dug deep in extra time and the penalty shootout to win.

LA took the lead in the 28th minute through a Kellyn Acosta free kick, deflected into the goal off Jack McGlynn’s head. The Union would equalize on 59 minutes through Daniel Gazdag’s well-taken goal from a recycled corner. LA went in front again on 83 minutes when Jesus Murillo’s header from a corner beat Andre Blake, but Philadelphia forced extra time through Jack Elliott’s header from Kai Wagner’s free kick just two minutes later.

Extra time was a wild half hour that saw LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau sent off after suffering a serious injury when he collided with Cory Burke as the Union man broke in on goal and was denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. Elliott scored his second goal of the match on 120+4′, tapping in after the Union kept a set piece alive in the LA box. But substitute Gareth Bale rose highest for a header into the box on 120+8′ to force penalty kicks.

Former Union man John McCarthy came in at goal for LAFC and didn’t allow a single goal in the shootout, denying Jose Martinez and Kai Wagner after Daniel Gazdag’s kick sailed over the bar as the midfielder slipped on the turf. Meanwhile, LA scored three of four penalties, with Ilie Sanchez’s kick deciding the game in the fourth round.

Jim Curtin was forced into one change to the team that defeated NYCFC in the Eastern Conference Final. With captain Alejandro Bedoya not fit enough to start, Jack McGlynn started the match on the right side of the Union midfield diamond. Giorgio Chiellini was also out on the LAFC backline, with Sebastien Ibeagha stepping in for the Italian.

After the Union started brightly, LAFC took the lead in the 28th minute through Acosta. Jose Martinez gave the ball away inside the Union half and then was forced to commit a foul as LA broke toward goal. With it looking like Carlos Vela would shoot with his left foot, it was Acosta who stepped up and fired with his right. The shot took a strong deflection of McGlynn’s head and the wrong-footed Andre Blake could only watch as the ball tucked into the corner.

Blake was at his very best to deny LA a two-goal lead on 39 minutes. After another dangerous LA free kick, the ball was recycled and crossed to the back post for Diego Palacios, whose hard shot was denied by Blake at close range.

The Union would draw level through Gazdag on 59 minutes. The ball was partially cleared after a Union corner, but Jose Martinez gathered 35 yards out. The midfielder took on one of his trademark long distance shots, and he kept his effort low and smashed it perfectly into the path of Gazdag, who had retreated perfectly into an onside position at the top of box. Gazdag took a perfect touch to slow the ball down and smashed home with his second to tie the game.

LAFC would take the lead in the 83rd minute through Murillo. Vela’s inswinging corner kick from the LA right side was met by Murillo at the near post and nodded perfect into the far post just out of the reach of Blake.

The Union would equalize just two minutes later through Elliott in the 85th minute. Kai Wagner’s free kick from 35 yards out on the Union left was placed perfectly and Elliott met the powerful cross with a strong header to beat Crepeau at the near post from 12 yards out.

The game would turn on its head in the 116th minute. A long ball over the top saw Burke in on goal, and as he touched the ball past Creapeu, the goalkeeper collided with the striker. Creapeu was carted off the field with what looked like a serious leg injury and was shown a red card on his way off for the denial of goal scoring opportunity. Former Union goalkeeper John McCarthy entered for LA at goalkeeper as Burke was also forced off after the collision.

Moments later Jack Elliott scored his second goal of the game, tapping home from close range on 120+4′ after yet another Union free kick was recycled in the LA box. It looked like what would surely be the Union’s game-winner.

But substitute Gareth Bale would rise highest over Elliott on 120+8′ to nod LA equal and force penalty kicks.

In the shootout, the Union failed to convert a single penalty kick as Gazdag slipped and kicked over the bar and then Martinez and Wagner’s penalties were saved by McCarthy. Meanwhile, after Cristian Tello missed the first attempt, LA converted through Denis Bouanga, Ryan Hollingshead, and Ilie Sanchez to win the shootout and lift MLS Cup.

The Union, gutted, saluted their traveling supporters before leaving the pitch for the last time in 2022.


Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Jack McGlynn (Paxten Aaronson 84′), Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre (Cory Burke 71′ (Chris Donovan 120′))

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Matt Real, Nathan Harriel, Jesús Bueno, Alejandro Bedoya, Quinn Sullivan

Los Angeles FC

Maxime Crépeau, Sebastien Ibeagha, Jesús Murillo, Diego Palacios, Ryan Hollingshead, Ilie Sánchez, Kellyn Acosta (Cristian Tello 91′), José Cifuentes, Cristian Arango (Kwadwo Opoku 74′ John McCarthy 118′)), Denis Bouanga, Carlos Vela (Gareth Bale 97′)

Unused subs: Franco Escobar, Eddie Segura, Sebastián Méndez, Giorgio Chiellini, Latif Blessing

Scoring summary

LAFC: Kellyn Acosta — 28′
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 59′ (Jose Martinez)
LAFC: Jesus Murillo — 83′ (Carlos Vela)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 85′ (Kai Wagner)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 120+4′
LAFC: Gareth Bale — 120+8′ (Diego Palacios)


LAFC: Cristian Tello — save
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — miss
LAFC: Denis Bouanga — goal
PHI: Jose Martinez — save
LAFC: Ryan Hollingshead — goal
PHI: Kai Wagner — save
LAFC: Ilie Sanchez — goal

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Jack Elliott — 14′ (foul)
LAFC: Jose Cifuentes — 65′ (foul)
LAFC: Sebastien Ibeagha — 85′ (foul)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 90+1′ (foul)
LAFC: Maxime Crepeau — 116′ (red card – DOGSO)

LA Statistic PHI LA Statistic PHI


Possession % 52.9 81 Duels Won 68
16 Shots 17 12 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 3 1 Saves 5
6 Blocked Shots 5 40 Clearances



Total Passes 495 15 Fouls 26
70.2 Pass Accuracy % 72.5 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 5 1 Red Cards 0
12 Crosses 25 .9 xG







  1. Our lads battled a star-studded checkbook team to a 120 minute draw at their stadium. Congratulations to every Union squad and staff member. I don’t care what happened during penalties because penalties suck. I’d be fine with a coin toss to award the trophy.
    I fear that this is the high-water mark for the franchise. The trend in DP spending is ever-upward, placing the skin-flint owned teams at an increasing disadvantage. I hope I am wrong.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      Bob, you’re not wrong. And Bedoya was *that bad off* he couldn’t even take a PK in the shootout? LAFC’s title is validation that they who spend, win. A .chair shot across the head painful truth.
      With any other team in the league, academies are means to a long-term end. With the Union, because of Sugarman’s well earned miserly rep, HIS academy seems to be code for doing things on the cheap.

  2. Yes the officiating sucked on Saturday, as it almost always does. Any touching of Carlos Vela was an instant foul call, and of course not so much for U players. Whatever his name is was inconsistent and poor.
    MLS officials routinely fail at basic match management, a task that does not require tons of experience or making difficult lightning-quick decisions. In MLS, soccer is no longer a continuous game. Teams have unlimited time-outs that are “called” simply by having a player writhe on the ground. We saw it last week with Sean Johnson – replay shows no contact on the play but he was allowed to writhe for minutes. In Saturday’s game in the 2nd half an LA guy writhed just as the U were starting to ramp it up. Apparently that’s just fine with Gene Garber and Howard Webb. It’s not really all that difficult to stop this garbage, they’re just willing to do what is necessary. They are turning the beautiful game into something that is not beautiful.

    • You are correct in your analysis.

      BTW, it’s Don Garber; and Howard Webb is back in the UK, fucking up the officiating in the Premier League now.

      And as to the clown who reffed Saturday, he is the only North American ref selected to go the the World Cup, which I assume means he’s been judged the best ref on the continent. What an embarrassment.

  3. God, I love this page. The only thing close to being as entertaining to the game is the postmortem here. Much admiration for all of the contributors that take the time to share their passion and knowledge.

    The Union have set well documented records this season. I can assume that this page has set some of its own with this string??? Most comments, most characters typed, most single game comments by individuals (Paul, Andy)?

    It’s natural that you want the best for something you love. The reality is that none of us fans have any direct control or say in how any pro team functions. It was stated earlier in this string that if you’re so invested in a team that you can’t take the heartache, then don’t be (Jimber’s post). I used to be that way with the Eagles for several decades. It was a real sickness that controlled aspects of my life. Addiction without the chemicals. For the sake of my family, I went to counseling for help. It took about 2 years to ween off and get it out of my system, but it finally took hold. One of the points the counselor drove home was pro athletes really don’t care about the fans, why should the fans care so much in the other direction? It was a blanket statement and part of a larger strategy for my cure, but it worked. Business is business. I hardly ever watch the Eagles now and when I do, I can enjoy. The Union have taken the place of the Eagles in my fandom need. I can feel some of the sickness of my past on the doorstep, but the padlocks are strong. I was gutted as much as anyone on this page but can still enjoy what got them to the game and life goes on. They will win the cup at some point. The Eagles finally won the big one, so will the Union.

    Hoping there will be some activity on this site during the off season and certainly looking forward to next year. Reading this page is part of the Union experience, can’t imagine one without the other. The staff writers here are just excellent and without peer. The regular contributors almost feel like family (including the dysfunction sometimes). I’ve learned more about the game here than anywhere else.

    Paul, I might be in the minority here, but hope to see more. Really stirred the pot. Counseling maybe?

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      No counseling necessary. Whenever something like this gets me ticked off, I usually stew for 24 hours and then let it go. That’s not going to change here.
      I’ve no ill will toward anyone here, even those who keep telling me to GFM and ‘whine whine whine’. We merely have a difference of opinion on what happened and what I believe is going to happen. First, nobody but me, it seems, wants to accept the gulf of difference between our lineup and LAFC’s. Their last sub was Bale. Ours was CHRIS FREAKING DONOVAN. Not even in the Multiverse is that an equal tradeoff.
      Second, most of you have a rose-colored glass view of the future, that our academy is going to pick up the slack without skipping a beat. That we’ll get a free agent or 2. And then reality will smack them upside the head when they hear the salary offers that Sugarman tells Tanner and Curtin to present, they’ll nod their heads and leave. Sugarman makes Connie Mack look like Steinbrenner in the payroll department.
      Third, it’d be nice to check and find out each MLS champions’ salaries of the past 10 years, say, and compare them to the Union’s. Bottom line, I think the Union have hit their peak and there’s nowhere else to go but down unless there is a sea change in the way this team pays its players, DPs and free agents.

    • Congratulations on turning around your issues. I won’t pretend to understand what you went through,but will applaud you for being honest about it. I think you may be right about PSP setting some records. I always enjoy this site for all the reasons you stated above. I am looking forward to next season as I have with all the seasons previous. I look forward to the off-season chatter on PSP. Be well all!

  4. Very well said. Amen.

  5. If we get $4+m for Paxton (as rumored), then we have to get $6m for Kai, $2m for McGlynn and another $2m for Mbaizo. That’s over $14m, plus the add-on ($3.5m?) for Brendan’s sale to Leeds, and maybe $$ for Martinez too.

    If these cheapskate owners can’t spend at least 50% of that, they don’t deserve to own this team. There’s responsible spending, and then there’s just incompetent greed.

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