1030 cup matchup

The Supporters’ Shield race between LAFC (Western Conference No. 1) and the Philadelphia Union (Eastern Conference No. 1) went down to the wire, and now an MLS Cup 2022 battle awaits next Saturday between the league’s top two teams.

MLS Cup 2022

  • Saturday, Nov. 5
  • 4 pm ET/1 pm PT
  • Banc of California Stadium | Los Angeles, Calif.
  • USA TV: FOX or Univision
  • CAN TV: TSN or TVA Sports

Here's an early breakdown after Sunday's Conference Finals narrowed the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs field down to two clubs – with the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy soon on the line between a pair of first-time finalists.

LAFC entered the playoffs with MLS Cup hosting priority, and they followed through on that reward after winning a second Shield in four years.  

After a Round One bye, first came an electric 3-2 victory over El Trafico rivals LA Galaxy in the Conference Semifinals, powered by Denis Bouanga’s brace and a stoppage-time winner from Cristian Arango.

That set the stage for Sunday’s Western Conference Final performance, a 3-0 trouncing of Austin FC that avenged two regular-season defeats to the Sebastian Driussi-led side.

Now, the fifth-year club has a shot at becoming the first team since 2017 Toronto FC to complete the Shield-Cup double when more silverware is on the line during head coach Steve Cherundolo’s first year at the helm.

Philadelphia have been a club on the rise for several years, and their biggest opportunity yet awaits when swapping coasts to vie for MLS Cup.

The Union exacted some revenge in Sunday’s Eastern Conference Final, roaring back from a goal down to beat defending champions New York City FC, 3-1. That came after 2021’s defeat to the same Cityzens while missing 11 players to health and safety protocols.

Before that result set Subaru Park into dreamland, Philadelphia’s Round One bye gave way to a 1-0 win over upstart FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Along the way, head coach Jim Curtin’s team has benefited from four different goal scorers.

Philadelphia won the Supporters’ Shield back in 2020, though MLS Cup would bring the club into entirely new territory. And with nearly an ever-present place in year-end awards, they’ll like their chances.

Season series

There were limited cross-conference matchups in 2022, but the schedule produced a 2-2 draw on May 7 between LAFC and Philadelphia – well before the hosts added the likes of Bouanga, Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale.

Their Shield battle was settled one weekend before Decision Day, only via the wins tiebreaker (LAFC’s 21 vs. Philadelphia’s 19). With 67 points apiece, little has separated these two deserving finalists.