LAFC claims 1st MLS Cup title with shootout win over Union

Kellyn Acosta of the Los Angeles FC scores a gaol against Philadelphia Union during the first half of the 2022 MLS Cup Final at Banc of California Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) ((Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images))

Gareth Bale tied the score 3-3 on a dramatic header in the eighth minute of extra-time stoppage time, backup goalkeeper John McCarthy stopped two Philadelphia shots in the shootout, and Los Angeles FC beat the Union 3-0 on penalty kicks to claim its first MLS Cup championship Saturday.

After Bale came on as a substitute in extra time and scored the tying goal for 10-man LAFC, Denis Bouanga, Ryan Hollingshead and Ilie Sanchez scored in the 3-0 shootout, capping the most dramatic of MLS's 27 title games.

McCarthy, a Philadelphia native and former Union keeper who had exactly one previous game of MLS action for LAFC this season, was forced to come on during the second extra period when starter Maxime Crepeau badly injured a leg while committing a red-card foul on Cory Burke.

Jack Elliott's second goal of the game then put Philadelphia ahead in the fourth minute of injury time, but Bale entered in the 97th minute and tied it with a thrilling header for the Welsh superstar's third MLS goal, his first in three months.

In the shootout, McCarthy didn't allow a goal on the Union's three attempts, diving to make two saves and watching Dániel Gazdag slip and sky his attempt over the crossbar. Sánchez then sealed the victory in front of LAFC's ecstatic home crowd.