And then there were two. LAFC and Philadelphia both win in style to advance to the MLS Cup Final! Thanks to a 3-0 smacking of Austin FC on Sunday, LAFC booked their first-ever trip to the MLS Cup Final. They are also the first team to win the Supports Shield AND make the final in over five years. Philadelphia put on an inspiring performance against the former champions, NYCFC, winning 3-1 to advance to their first-ever final as well.
Both teams deserved to make it this far and showed why they are the two best teams in the league right now. A new champion crowned, two fairytale seasons, and updated MLS cup betting odds. There is a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.
Conference Final Overview
LACF 3 – 0 Austin FC
A first-half goal from Colombian striker Cristian Arango, an own second-half goal from Austin’s Maxi Urruti, and a late strike from Kwadwo Opoku sealed victory for LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium. Steve Cherundolo’s side will head into their first-ever MLS Cup Final — which will be played at LAFC’s home ground — brimming with confidence after Sunday’s composed victory.
LAFC almost took the lead on 17 minutes when Jesus Murillo’s ball over the top caught the Austin back four cold, allowing Jose Cifuentes to latch onto the pass and shoot, only for his effort from a tight angle to cannon back off the post.
LAFC went close again in 28 minutes when Carlos Vela’s superb through ball found Denis Bouanga, who rounded Brad Stuver but saw his shot blocked behind for a corner.
However, the goal that LAFC had been threatening arrived from a set-piece, with Vela swinging a corner for Arango to head home.
Austin started with more purpose in the second half, but a flurry of sharp corners amounted to nothing, and soon LAFC was back on top.
Although, in the 62nd minute, the relentless LAFC pressure finally paid off. Vela’s in-swinging corner confused the six-yard box, and Austin’s striker, Urruti, headed into his net to put LAFC 2-0 up. Then, In the 81st minute, Opoku gathered a hopeful ball forward and swept a shot past Stuver for 3-0.
Philadelphia Union 3 – 1 NYCFC
Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag scored two minutes apart in the second half. The Philadelphia Union advanced to their first MLS Cup Final with a 3-1 victory over New York City FC. Cory Burke also scored in the Conference Final for the Union, who were unbeaten in 19 matches at home this season.
Gazdag appeared to score for the Union in the 16th minute but was offside. It was scoreless at the half before Maxi Moralez’s sublime strike sailed past Andre Blake to put NYCFC in front 1-0 in the 57th minute.
The Union tied it up in the 65th with Carranza’s first career playoff goal. Moments later, Carranza directed a header to Gazdag, who scored to give Philadelphia the lead. Burke added a third goal in the 76th.
It was the second straight year the teams reached the Eastern Conference final. Last season, the Union was without 11 players because of Covid-19 protocols, and NYCFC won 2-1. Last season, NYCFC defeated the Portland Timbers in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in the MLS Cup Final.
MLS Cup Final Matchup
The MLS betting odds for LAFC and the Philadelphia Union have been updated since reaching the MLS Cup Final.
In Steve Cherundolo’s first season as head coach, the win against Austin FC continues a fairytale year for the Black and Gold. LAFC earned this year’s Supporters’ Shield and the top seed after finishing with a 21-9-4 record in the regular season MLS standings.
They are the favorite heading into the final for this very reason. There has not been a team to win the Supports’ Shield and the MLS Cup Final since Toronto did five years ago. LAFC has all the big-name stars and a beautiful style of play. So as much as it pains us to say, LAFC should win this match.
Philadelphia Union (+215)
Jim Curtain and the top seed Philadelphia Union had themselves a vengeful night as they defeated NYCFC 3-1. NYCFC knocked them out in the same spot last year, so this game meant even more to the Union. The Union topped the East with a 19-5-10 record in the regular season. But, like LAFC, Philadelphia is competing for the MLS Cup title for the first time in franchise history.
Considering how well they performed all season, it is surprising that the betting odds for the Philadelphia Union are so low. They were the title favorites for most of the season before LAFC’s resurgence to the top. That being said, they have shown time and time again that they can compete with the best in the league. In addition, Philadelphia is one of the few squads in the league where everyone plays for one common goal. So, betting on a resilient Union side at +215 is not the wrong way to go.Follow us on Twitter