Gareth Bale’s dramatic late goal won the Los Angeles Football Club the Major League Soccer Cup for the first time in a thrilling and frenzied final against the Philadelphia Union at Bank of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
Jack Elliott appeared to have won the game for Philadelphia when he scored in stoppage time of extra time, but after a header from substitute Bale, they tied the game 3–3 and forced a penalty shoot-out. LAFC won 3-0.
“It’s always nice to score in the final. I seem to have the talent to do it,” Bale, who joined LAFC from Real Madrid earlier this year, told reporters after the game. “It’s big. It’s important for the club. It’s important for the fans.”
For Real Madrid, Bale scored three goals in the Champions League final. This includes his stunning Bicycle kick against Liverpool in 2018.
“The reason I came here was to help the club win the MLS Cup,” added the Wales international.
“The fans and the city can see how happy everyone is right now. It is important for this club to go to the next level and winning this trophy shows that we are. I think.”
LAFC opened the scoring in Saturday’s final through Kerrin Acosta’s deflected free-kick in the 28th minute.
After a 1-0 draw at the start of the second half, Union side Daniel Gazdag scored the equalizer after picking up José Martínez’s sore shot in the box.
The game remained stalemate until an 83rd-minute goal from Jesús Murillo put Los Angeles back in the lead. That lead didn’t last, however, as Union’s Jack Elliott scored a header to force extra time.
In the 110th minute, LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau was shown a yellow card after a nasty foul on Philadelphia’s Cory Burke.
The card was changed to red as both players were injured for fouls and Crepeaux was injured and carted off the field. Burke stayed in the game and LAFC his backup goaltender John McCarthy was brought in to end the game.
Union’s Elliott stepped up again in stoppage time and scored with about five minutes remaining to put his team ahead.
However, just as Union thought they had secured the championship, Bale generated an equalizer in the final minute of injury time to force a penalty shootout.
The Philadelphia native was a hero in Los Angeles as he avoided two penalties in a shootout. Meanwhile, LAFC saw him score on three of four attempts, including Sanchez’s championship securing goal over Illy.
The home crowd went wild as players and coaches rushed onto the field to celebrate the victory.
McCarthy was named the 2022 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player after the game.