By: Aedon Evenson-McDermott
On the 5th of November, 2022, the eyes of America’s biggest soccer league turned their attention to the Banc of California Stadium. The teams were solid and quite evenly matched which made it to be an insightful affair between the squads.
LAFC came into the final as the Western Conference 1st seed, and champions, and likewise as Philadelphia Union was the Eastern Conference 1st spot, and champions. Bedoya for the Union was a big miss as he was one of their biggest leaders and a stud in the midfield.
For the first 25 minutes, both teams ran up and down the field as they searched for the early goal. Two minutes later, when the 27th minute came, LAFC’S Acosta struck the net with a thunderous hit which struck the back of the net. 1-0 LAFC and the supporters section went crazy!
The second half would be all a soccer fan would dream of. The Union’s Gazdag put the ball in the back of the net in the 59th minute. 1-1! The constant drama of the back and fourth would be a lead runner for the rest of the game.
LAFC would respond near the end of the 90 minutes in the 83rd minute with a goal from Murillo. When most thought it was over and LAFC would walk away with the Cup, Union’s Jack Elliot smashed the ball into the back of the net with his thunderous header two minutes later in the 85th minute. The very few Philadelphia Union faithful fans had a lifeline.
The end of the regular 90 minutes of regulation would end thus prompting the 30 minute layover of extra time. Both teams had chances and in the 116th minute a bad back pass from center back Murillo to LAFC’S goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau led to the horrific collision between Crepeau and the Union’s Cory Burke. Crepeau is Canada’s number 1 keeper but will unfournately miss the World Cup. Milan Borjan or Minnesota United’s Dayne St. Clair would get the start. Crepeau was carted off and unfortunately would break his leg. This would prompt substitute goalkeeper, and penalty specialist, John McCarthy to come in for the remaining extra time.
After the end of the additional 30 minutes, there would be an additional 9 minutes added on after the injury for stoppage time.
In the 124th minute, a second incredible goal from the Union’s Elliot went in and it was the first lead of the game for the Union. 3-2! Four minutes later, the storylines would be written as the almighty Welshman Gareth Bale bails them out with an incredible jump for the header. 3-3 in the 128th minute!
After both teams finished tied at 3 a piece, it would all come to a penalty shootout. John McCarthy who played before, for the Union, would be in goal as Crepeau’s replacement. Knowing a lot of where the guys put their shots on goal he would put his mind to the test. Andre Blake, one of the MLS’s best, would step up first as he would save the penalty. Philly would miss their second penalty as it skied over the bar. Bouanga converted for LAFC making it 1-0 on their second kick. Union would miss their second kick. Hollingshead for LAFC scored and made it 2-0 in the shootout. The Union would miss their third shot as well. IIie would step up and put the winning shot into the back of the net. No coming back for the Union as they missed their first three shots. McCarthy would be the hero of the game and go on to win MVP.
It couldn’t have been more of a Hollywood ending with a great effort put on by both teams! Congratulations to the champions LAFC and better times for the Union. It was a joy to experience such a great game and a nail biting ending. It should be an interesting offseason for both teams and it will be fun with the league resuming in later February and early March!