Winning the MLS matters to LAFC

(News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) winning the MLS Cup is a big deal for the city of Los Angeles. It’s a big deal for Major League Soccer (MLS) as well. It was a great day to witness history.

It was also a chaotic day and one to remember. The first thing that stood out to me was that by chance the USC Trojans football team had a date on their schedule to play their homecoming game against Cal (the University of California) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. What a mess it turned out to be for soccer fans. Parking for fans hoping to see the MLS match between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union was hard to come by.

Photo Credit: LAFC

With no nearby parking option, LAFC fans had to park at Dodger Stadium and use a Metro Silver Line bus in order to get to the Banc of California Stadium where the home team played the Philadelphia Union. The parking situation left fans without the option to tailgate if they wanted to. That’s because tailgating was not permitted at Dodger Stadium.

So, you can imagine how frustrated some fans were. LAFC fans were very upset that they didn’t get to use the parking facilities that are close to the Banc of California Stadium since the Trojans played against the Golden Bears. Some fans had called for the game to be played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood or the rescheduling of the MLS Cup altogether.

Of course, that didn’t happen. The game was played as scheduled. 

LAFC advanced to its first-ever MLS final after defeating Austin FC. The LAFC-Philadelphia matchup is the first time both conferences from East and West that were in first place reached the MLS Cup since 2003 when Chicago Fire played against San Jose Earthquakes. It was the fifth meeting between LAFC and Philadelphia.  

Photo Credit: LAFC

The game turned out to be a doozy, a spectacular event that concluded with a dramatic ending. The game and eventual championship won by LAFC was well worth the wait. It was also an extraordinary achievement by a team that has only been around since they began to play in 2018.

Before we get to the essence of a game played in early November, LAFC winning the MLS Cup puts the team alongside other LA sports teams that have won titles.  Yes, that means LAFC are champions just like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Sparks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Kings. That’s some pretty good company to keep.

Now let’s get to the match. One thing is for sure, a lot of people had their eyes tuned in to watch. According to MLS, the championship match between the Black & Gold and Philadelphia was the most-watched MLS game since 1997. It was the second-highest viewed LAFC match since their 2019 Playoff El Trafico game was played. There are a lot of variables that contributed to the extraordinary viewership.

Certainly, having big-time stars like LAFC’s Gareth Bale, Carlos Vela and midfielder Kellyn Acosta didn’t hurt the game’s appeal. With the 2022 World Cup on display internationally, this seems to be a good as time to re-visit the Black & Gold magical moment.

In the 27th minute, LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta scored a deflected free kick to take the lead.

In the second half in the 58th minute, Union midfielder Dániel Gazdag scored the goal and equalized the game. A corner kick in stoppage time, Jesus Murillo scored on a header to give LAFC a 2-1 lead.

Two minutes later, Union got a free kick and Jack Elliott scored a heading goal to equalize the score 2-2. LAFC and Philadelphia would head to overtime. Vela got subbed out and Bale got subbed in. In the 109th minute, Murillo tried to stop the ball and Cory Burke took the ball.

Later on, Maxime Crépeau rushed to Burke and fouled him and both players suffered injuries. Crépeau wound up with a broken leg and received a red card after fouling Burke. Crépeau’s broken leg cost him his trip to the World Cup in Qatar. Elliott scored his second goal and Philadelphia took a 3-2 lead. At that moment, it appeared that the Union would win their first MLS Cup trophy.

Bale shut that notion down. After getting subbed in, Bale scored an epic goal to equalize the game at 3-3. With the dramatics picking up, this contest developed into one of the best games ever. 

Photo Credit: LAFC

With the game ending in a 3-3 draw, both teams would have to settle things through penalty kicks. Philadelphia missed all three penalty shots they took. As a result, LAFC won their first-ever MLS Cup title by beating the Union on penalty kicks.

Bale became the first player to score goals in the finals of the Champions League and MLS Cup. Bale has a total of four trophies in 2022. He won La Liga and UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and with LAFC he won the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.

I thought that LAFC was going to lose this trophy since it’s hosted at Banc of California and should win it all for the fans.

With this result, LAFC became the first team since Toronto FC in 2017 to win both Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.

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