Former Bundesliga professional Steven Cherundolo celebrated the Major League Soccer title in his first year as head coach of Los Angeles FC.
In a memorable final at their home Banc of California Stadium, LAFC won 3-0 (6-3, 3-3, 1-0) on penalties against the Philadelphia Union, featuring German left-back Kai Wagner from Geislingen an der Steige and Hamburg grown up midfielder Leon Flach.
Ilie Sanchez hit the decisive penalty for Los Angeles to 3-0. Previously, Kai Wagner had failed Los Angeles’ reserve goalkeeper John McCarthy. He only came on in extra time after first-choice goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau saw the red card and injured himself so badly that he had to be transported off the field. Denis Bouanga and Ryan Hollingshead also took penalties for Los Angeles.
Bale saves LAFC on penalties
Wales international Gareth Bale had saved Los Angeles on penalties: in the eighth minute of added time in extra time, Bale headed in to make it 3-3. The midfielder only came on in extra time. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Jack Elliott had Philadelphia cheering with a 3-2 lead.
Los Angeles took the lead twice in regular time. In the 85th minute, Kai Wagner was also involved in Philadelphia’s 2-2 equaliser. The left-back played for Jack Elliott with a free-kick.
Cherundolo is active for the first time in his career as head coach of a first division team. The 43-year-old had previously looked after a lower-class team in Las Vegas and worked as an assistant coach at VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96 in Germany. Ahead of the season, the Los Angeles side had prominently strengthened with Gareth Bale and long-time Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini. However, Chiellini was not used in the final.
For the first time since 2003, the two best main round teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences faced each other in the MLS final. Both Los Angeles and Philadelphia had qualified for the US Championship final for the first time in their club history.