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Monday, November 28, 2022

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90min writers predict MLS Cup

The 2022 MLS season has reached its climax. MLS Cup is upon us.

Saturday’s match at Banc of California Stadium pits Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC against the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Union.

Both sides finished on 67 points during the regular season. LAFC won more games, but the Union boasted the best offensive and defensive records in the league.

It really couldn’t be much closer. In fact, you could say it’s too close to call. And yet, we here are 90min have given it our best shot at predicting the outcome…

The 2022 MLS Cup between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union will no doubt be an action-packed game. The Black and Gold head into Saturday as the clear favorites, after clinching the Supporters’ Shield and the No.1 seed in the West.

And while they do have a shocking offensive lineup, I would not underestimate the Philadelphia Union. Jim Curtin set up his side as one of the strongest defensively, conceding the fewest goals throughout the 2022 campaign. Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza will also have something to say at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC will still most likely win, but not by the ridiculous scores people anticipate. 2-1 for me.

This is the first time either of these two teams have reached MLS Cup, so predicting how they’ll handle the occasion is very tough.

LAFC lost their only other major final in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League, but now have some players with immense experience in big games such as Bale and Giorgio Chiellini, alongside Carlos Vela.

The Union, meanwhile, have looked unstoppable all year and in another universe, could have been defending their title after only being derailed last year due to health and safety protocols.

Both sides finished level on 67 points during the regular season, highlighting how well-matched they are. However, despite LAFC holding home advantage, the Union can be likened to a steam train once they get going, while the likes of Andre Blake and Jakob Glesnes are unbreakable at the back.

For me, Curtin’s side just edge a thrilling final 3-2, after inititally weathering the inevitable early storm from LAFC.

I understand that this is a battle of Hollywood blockbuster offense colliding with gritty blue-collar defensive resiliency, but I want goals.

The Union has given up a league minimum of only 26 goals all season but more than half were on the road. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday. There will be some defense but I use that word lightly.

The excitement of a cup final will surely draw a few yellow cards from both benches. Banc of California Stadium will be absolutely rocking with the ‘3252’ going at full blast not just for the 90 minutes of game time but ALL DAY.

I’m predicting a high-scoring shootout with a late-game winner from my Colombian “parcero” Chicho Arango. The final score will be 4-3 LAFC with Chicho netting a brace.

I have the Philadelphia Union taking home all the marbles this weekend.

When I picture this game, I imagine it comes down to defense and, more specifically, the goalkeepers. In three of the last four matches these teams have played, the game has ended in a draw and I see this one being a similar affair, meaning extra time and likely PKs.

The LA crowd will be a menace, but I think Philly can handle it and I think Andre Blake plays a MASSIVE role in their victory. If Philly can avoid the initial LAFC frenzy and weather the storm of the first 10-15 minutes, I think they find a way to win.

It’ll definitely be a huge clash between two of the best teams in MLS respectively from their own Conferences, which will make Saturday’s final a big deal.

The Philadelphia Union looked so impressive by only conceding one goal during the entire Playoffs run and that is thanks, in part, to the great defense that head coach Jim Curtin has at his disposal.

As for LAFC, I have enjoyed seeing them throughout the entire MLS season and to be rightly deserved as the Supporters’ Shield winners is a testament to the way that Steve Cherundolo is coaching this side on all fronts, even if they had a bit of a scare in the Playoffs when they took on the LA Galaxy. Of course, they made quick work of Austin FC in the Western Conference Final.

It’s going to be a very tight affair but I think LAFC just edges it slightly with the better attack on display and I feel that someone like Carlos Vela can turn it up and help the Western Conference side capture its first-ever MLS Cup title. 2-1 to LAFC in regular time.

LAFC wins: 3
PhilaUnion wins: 2

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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