The Unexpected Turn of Events Leads LAFC to First MLS Cup Win

Abigail Leporati '24, Staff Writer


Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times


The 2022 MLS Cup Final could be considered one of the most dramatic and eventful soccer games in MLS history. On November 5th, 2022, the league’s two best teams, the Philadelphia Union and LAFC, played against each other for the MLS cup championship. Two 45-minute halves, 1 red card, two 15-minute overtimes, and a penalty shootout ultimately decided who would hold the trophy.


Both conference championship games, which decide who advances to the Finals, held a lot less drama than the final. The Union beat NYCFC 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Championship to advance, while LAFC beat Austin FC in the Western Conference Championship. This was the first time either franchise had competed in the MLS Cup Final. The high-scoring games showed just how talented each team is, and how much of a battle the upcoming championship would be. 


LAFC struck first in the game. Midway through the first half, Kellyn Acosta’s free-kick deflected off Union player Jack Mcglynn’s head. This deflection threw off the Union’s goalkeeper, Andre Blake, allowing the ball to hit the back of the net. However, the Union responded in the second half, when Daniel Gazdag hit a low ball right underneath the opposing goalkeeper, officially putting the Union on the scoreboard. 


With 10 minutes left, and the game still tied, neither team was satisfied. In the 83rd minute, LAFC won a corner kick. The beautifully placed corner kick allowed LAFC’s defender Jesus Murillo to head the ball into the net. This left the Union down 2-1 with less than 10 minutes left in regulation time. Two minutes later, as LAFC’s fans were still cheering for Murillo’s goal, Jack Elliot of the Union, responded with a header of his own to end the game at 2-2. The game then led to two 15-minute overtimes. 


During the second overtime, Union’s forward, Corey Burke had an open breakaway toward the goal. This caused LAFC’s goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to sprint off his line to stop Burke right outside of the 18-yard box. This challenge led Crepeau to a season-ending injury and a red card. With Crepeau’s ejection, the Philadelphia native and former Union goalkeeper, John McCarthy had to fill his shoes. Within minutes of entering the game, McCarthy had a brilliant save but failed to save the rebound, as Jack Elliot headed the ball into the net. With just minutes left to play, the Union thought that they had secured the 3-2 lead. However, LAFC’s Gareth Bale came back with a huge goal just minutes after Elliot’s header. This caused a penalty shootout. 


With everything on the line for both teams, the backup goalkeeper McCarthy made the most significant impact in the shootout. In LAFC’s first attempt, Andre Blake stopped a shot from Cristian Tello. The Union’s Gazdag sent the next pen into the air over the crossbar. The rest of the shooters for LAFC sent the ball into the back of the net, while McCarthy made two crucial saves against the Union to secure the win and bring the trophy home.   


It was a true fairytale ending for LAFC and their backup goalkeeper McCarthy who won MVP of the match and helped bring back LAFC’s first-ever MLS Cup trophy.