Photograph: Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports
A reserve goalkeeper starting only his third Major League Soccer game of the season helped Los Angeles Football Club win the MLS Cup.
Jack McCarthy stopped two shots on goal as LAFC beat the Philadelphia Union on penalties, 3-0, after playing a 3-3 draw after 120 minutes before 22,384 at Banc of California Stadium.
McCarthy, who entered the game in the 117th minute when starter Maxime Crepeau was shown a red card, stopped two of the Union’s three shots on goal. McCarthy dove to his right to prevent Jose Martinez, then dove to his left to deflect Kai Wagner’s attempt.
As a result of his unexpected efforts, McCarthy was voted the game’s most valuable player.
Daniel Gazdag, Philadelphia’s first penalty taker, fired his shot high over the crossbar. Gazdag is tied for second in league scoring in the regular season with 22 goals.
Denis Bouanga, Ryan Hollingshead and Ilie Sanchez converted for Los Angeles, Sanchez’s shot bouncing under diving keeper Andre Blake to give his club the championship.
Crepeau was sent off in the 117th minute after tripping Union’s Cory Burke on a breakaway. Crepeau charged down his line and tripped Burke as he was outside the penalty area. Both players sprawled, and Crepeau had to leave the field on a motorized board. But as he left, the Canada international gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign to the home fans.
Union rallied from a 2-1 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the 124th minute. Wagner sent in a cross from the right wing which hit Sanchez near the goal line. McCarthy deflected the ball but Jack Elliott scored from two yards out.
But four minutes later Wales international Gareth Bale leveled the score. Bale, who replaced Carlos Vela in the 97th minute, converted a seven-yard header from Diego Palacios’ right wing cross.
LAFC used Kellyn Acosta’s 26-yard free kick in the 28th minute to go ahead 1-0. After Union’s Jose Martinez fouled Cristian Arango, Acosta’s free kick ricocheted off the head of Philadelphia’s Jack McGlynn, who jumped with the defensive wall. Blake, playing the expected angle, found himself out of position as the ball raced between him and the left post.
After the goal, Martinez used his jersey to hide the lower half of his face.
McGlynn started for Union captain midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya suffered a hip flexor injury Sept. 17 against Atlanta and missed three of the next five games, including the final and Oct. 20 playoff game against FC Cincinnati.
Gazdag equalized the score in the 59th minute. Wagner started the scoring streak with a left corner kick that LAFC’s Jesus Murillo deflected. But Philadelphia’s Olivier Mbaizo secured the ball in midfield and passed it to Martinez, who found an unmarked Gazdag in the penalty area. Gazdag beat his marker and converted an 11-yard rising shot that settled under the crossbar.
LAFC regained a 2-1 lead in the 83rd minute. Vela’s corner kick from the right wing found Jesus Murillo, whose header looking just outside the right side of the goalkeeper crease settled inside the far post. But two minutes later, the visitors leveled the score again. Wagner sent his 38-yard free kick from right wing to Elliott, whose 10-yard header beat Crepeau.