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In A Heart-Stopping Match, LAFC Wins Its First-Ever Major League Soccer Championship

Confetti rains down on a large group of soccer players as one hoists a championship trophy over his head.
Carlos Vela #10 of Los Angeles FC lifts the championship trophy as he celebrates with teammates during the 2022 MLS Cup Final at Banc of California Stadium on November 5, 2022.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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Getty Images North America)
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Topline:

In what will go down as the most dramatic match in MLS Cup history to date, LAFC survived more than 130 minutes of intense play and overcame a 3-3 tie to defeat the Philadelphia Union in a penalty shootout.

A dramatic finish: It was, for Los Angeles, an appropriately Hollywood ending. Backup goalkeeper John McCarthy blocked three consecutive penalty kicks to bring the MLS Cup to Los Angeles.

Match highlights: It was a seesaw match. LAFC took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Kellyn Acosta off a free kick. Philadelphia came back to tie early in the second half. Both teams battled until the final minutes of the game, with each team scoring a goal within two and a half minutes of each other. That sent the match to extra time.

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A total of 13 players are seen in front of a goal in a shaded area. Eight Philadelphia Union players are wearing sky blue tops with gold shorts; four LAFC players are wearing all black uniforms. The goalkeeper is wearing an all-orange uniform. Four Philadelphia players are leaping the air to try to block a ball. The ball is seen bouncing off one of the players toward the goal.
Kellyn Acosta #23 of the Los Angeles FC scores a goal against Philadelphia Union during the first half of the 2022 MLS Cup Final at Banc of California Stadium on November 5, 2022.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
/
Getty Images North America)

And then? Nail-biting time. After the first extra time period passed with no scoring, LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau went down in the 110th minute in a collision with Union forward Cory Burke as Burke streaked toward the goal. Crépeau — slapped with a red card after the injury — was carted off the field, leaving LAFC a man short on the pitch. After a phenomenal save, McCarthy gave up a goal off the rebound.

And then? If you wrote off LAFC, shame on you. About eight minutes into a nine-minute stoppage time — the result of the delays from the spills, collisions, and injuries — striker Gareth Bale struck with the tying goal. McCarthy then redeemed himself in the penalty shootout with a series of amazing saves.

Why it matters: Los Angeles now has 2022 champions in football — the Rams, who won the Super Bowl in February — and in fútbol!

When's the party? There will be a celebration on Sunday, Nov. 6 at Christmas Tree Lane in Expo Park. Doors open at 3 p.m., festivities begin at 4 p.m.

Go deeper: How LAFC Fans Helped Make The Stadium A Welcoming Space For All