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In pictures: 2022 MLS Cup – Los Angeles FC 3-3 (3-0) Philadelphia Union

All photos credit Stephen Speer

It is a truth in soccer that only one team can become champions. And on Saturday, that team was not the Philadelphia Union.

Despite drawing level twice and scoring a go-ahead goal in the 124th minute of extra time, the Union conceded a late goal to Gareth Bale and then fell to LAFC 3-0 on kicks from the spot. In what has since been dubbed “the greatest MLS Cup match of all time” by many commentators, both teams put on a show for more than 2.1 million viewers nation-wide.

However, Philly Soccer Page photographer Stephen Speer had a different view on Saturday, pitchside in Los Angeles. Through his lens, experience the emotions of the day:


The teams make their march out onto the pitch.

The starting lineup.

Flares, flares, and more flares.

One last huddle before the match.

Ready for kickoff.

Andre Blake rolls it out.

Jose Martinez at the back.

Blake claims the cross.

Jack McGlynn starts for the injured Alejandro Bedoya.

Olivier Mbaizo challenges for the header with Bwanga.

He’s not thrilled with the refereeing in this half.

LAFC take the lead off a deflected free kick!

Blake tries to sort out the confusion with Mbaizo.

Daniel Gazdag weaves his way through three defenders to begin the counterattack.

Mbaizo disagrees with the foul call again.

The second half is about to begin…

Kai Wagner and Hollingshead battle it out.

Mikael Uhre is into the penalty area!

Goal for Gazdag! 1-1!

The home crowd doesn’t appreciate the Union’s celebrations.

But the away fans surely do!

Tempers are flaring at one end of the pitch.

And now they’re heated at the other end of the pitch.

Crepeau gets the match underway from an offside call.

Daniel Gazdag.

Wagner drives in a free-kick.

Leon Flach has been everywhere today.

Julian Carranza has not. He’s been effectively taken out of the game by LAFC.

Crepeau claims another out-swinging ball.

Cory Burke is on again.

But LAFC take the lead!

The Union have not won many 50/50 balls this half.

Wagner prepares to take another free kick.

Jack Elliott gets his head to it!

It’s in! 2-2!

Another beer shower.

Brothers in arms.

Cory Burke is hoping to make something happen.

We’re headed to extra time.

Paxten Aaronson is trying to make an impact now.

Martinez with the clearance.

Burke has been nimble with his dribbling today.

Carranza competing for the ball.

Elliott has scored again! The Union take the lead!

Palacios beats Aaronson… this could be trouble here.

It’s Gareth Bale with the equalizer! 3-3.

It’s now down to kicks from the spot.

Gazdag slips! That was a golden opportunity!

This team is a family through thick and thin.


The team supports their traveling fans.

Gazdag will be back with a vengeance next year.

LAFC are Champions of MLS.

Ends are not bad things; they just mean that something else is about to begin. And so, it ended for the Philadelphia Union at the 2022 MLS Cup. But with this end begins a new offseason, and a new chance to win trophies next season. Next stop, Concacaf Champions League!


  1. Really great photos, Stephen!
    The shot of Bale in the air is especially incredible, much as it pains me to look at it. It really shows the advantage Bale had getting his timing right and with the ball curling out to meet him. Meanwhile, the ball is tailing away from Elliot and, despite being 6’6, he’s just trying to get himself under it in a position to challenge for it. Never really stood a chance.

    • Elliot did not attack the ball and did not jum (his one foot is still on the ground); that is the problem. Would have loved to have seen pictures of the tail gate. What a weekend it was!!

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