2022 MLS Cup Final Review – Bale And McCarthy Give LAFC Their First Title

2022 LAFC MLS Cup win
LAFC won the 2022 MLS Cup penalty shootout 3-0

Gareth Bale stepped up and produced the magic moment in one of the MLS Cup’s most dramatic matches as LAFC beat Philadelphia Union at the Banc of California Stadium. 

It just had to be him. Five years on from his bicycle kick in Kyiv to win the 2018 Champions League final, Gareth Bale scored a 128th-minute equalizer and sent the 2022 MLS Cup final to a penalty shootout. It was the sort of script a Hollywood blockbuster couldn’t have gotten away with, but that was the exact spectacle the Banc of California Stadium was treated to on Saturday. Check out how LAFC won the 2022 MLS Cup at SinkorSwimSports.

Champions Elect

LAFC won their second Supporters’ Shield title on Decision Day during the 2022 MLS regular season and made use of their home advantage in the playoffs with wins over LA Galaxy and Austin. 

Their opponents for the side’s first-ever MLS Cup appearance were Jim Curtin’s Philadelphia Union. Topping the Eastern Conference table, the Union had overcome Cincinnati and New York City, with the final in California representing the biggest challenge in their rapid rise under Curtin.

Winning From The Jaws Of Defeat 

In our LAFC vs Philadelphia Union preview ahead of Saturday’s match, we highlighted how the Black and Gold were favorites in our MLS 2022 odds at -130

Kellyn Acosta and Daniel Gazdag had locked the scoreline at 1-1 heading into the hour mark, however that was where the 2022 MLS Cup final really kicked into life. Jesus Murillo’s 83rd-minute finish made it 2-1 to LA, however, the Union’s center-back Jack Elliot ensured extra time with his goal two minutes later. 

The unlikely scorer bagged himself the unlikeliest of braces in the 124th minute, and it looked for all the world that the Union had won their first title. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Bale, subbed on in the 97th minute, towered over Elliot in the Union box to send the game to penalties

Step up substitute goalkeeper John McCarthy. Having been brought on during the second half of extra time, the former Philadelphia native and Union goalkeeper saved two efforts before Ilie Sanchez sealed the shootout 3-0. 

LAFC’s first MLS Cup win and one of the most legendary moments in Major League Soccer’s twenty-seven-year history was a thrill-a-minute match that marked a fitting end to the 2022 season

Speaking about his clutch goal, Bale claimed: 

“It’s always nice to score in finals, and I seem to have a knack for doing that. It’s big. It’s important for the club. It’s important for the fans. The reason why I came here was to try and help the club win the MLS Cup.” 

“You can see how happy everybody is now, the fans, the city. It’s important for this club to go to the next level, and I think winning this trophy, shows that we are.”

“It’s a club really on the rise doing the right things and it’s an important trophy for us, especially the first one, first major trophy, and hopefully there’s more to come in the future.”

2022 MLS Cup Trivia 

  • LAFC became the eighth side in Major League Soccer history to win both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, the first since Toronto in 2017 to achieve this feat. 
  • This was the sixth MLS Cup final decided via a penalty shootout.
  • It also marked the first instance of consecutive MLS Cups being decided via a shootout, following New York’s win in 2021