For the first time in 19 years the two number ones seeds in the Western and Eastern Conferences meet in the MLS Cup final as Los Angeles FC host Philadelphia Union in what should be a cracking conclusion to the MLS campaign.
This final pits the Supporters’ Shield winners against the team who ran them all the way in the race for that piece of silverware. So closely matched were these two in the regular season that only games won separated them at the end of it.
Even when they met in the regular season the match finished 2-2 in entertaining style so there really is little to choose between two teams who are both good to watch and who would be worthy champions.
LAFC cruised through the two matches they had to play in the postseason to reach the MLS Cup final. They saw off city rivals Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 before cruising past Austin FC to ensure they host this final.
Philadelphia Union edged out a game FC Cincinnati team in their Eastern Conference semi-final before overpowering New York City FC after going a goal down in the Eastern final last weekend.
This one is perfectly setup to be a classic MLS Cup final. Keep reading for three selections which make up my bet builder for the big final.
Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union Bet Builder Tips
LAFC to Win
The race for the Supporters’ Shield this season felt very significant because home advantage between these two fine teams has been crucial throughout the campaign. LAFC have won 11 of their last 12 matches at the Banc of California Stadium with the one they lost in that time coming in the final match of the regular season when they had long since achieved what they wanted and had just finished celebrating winning the Shield.
Philadelphia have won their last 11 at Subaru Park so hosting this final was always going to be a very big deal and I think it is huge for LAFC that they are the team who are doing it.
Philadelphia will tell you that this is a battle of a team built incrementally and sustainably against a side who have had money thrown at big stars, but I think that is significant too. LAFC have the likes of Carlos Vela and Cristian Arango in good form and then if they don’t get the job done Gareth Bale is waiting on the bench to have an impact.
Squad depth is an issue for the Union and if Alejandro Bedoya isn’t given the all-clear to play then that is a further loss. It all points to a home win inside the 90 minutes to me.
Over 2.5 Goals
I think the one thing that can be guaranteed in this final is it will contain goals. These two scored more than any other team in the MLS in the regular season and they haven’t exactly stopped since the postseason came around.
These two met in the regular season in a match which ended 2-2 on this very ground and I would argue that LAFC have only improved going forward since then which bodes well for another relatively high scoring game.
There are plenty of players who are in excellent scoring form heading into this match, not least Vela, Arango, Daniel Gazdag and Mikael Uhre and with two of the best assisters in MLS on the pitch too in Kai Wagner and Vela the chances should come pretty regularly too. The second leg of the bet builder can be for there to be more than 2.5 goals.
Jose Martinez to be Carded
The final leg of the bet builder comes in the form of a player booking and it won’t be a surprise to anyone that the man in question is Jose Martinez, a man who collects bookings at quite a rate and is looking to complete a hat trick of playoff bookings having seen a card against FC Cincinnati and New York City FC.
Those bookings took him up to 12 for the season in a Union shirt so it is clear that referees know all about him and in a pressurised game where everyone is going to leave it all on the line like both teams will be doing here, it will be no surprise if another card comes the way of the Venezuela international.
Martinez will be in the heart of the midfield for the Union where there are likely to be runners all around him from a vibrant LAFC attack, so it won’t take too much for the midfielder to mistime something and fall foul of the arbiter.
He can be quite hot-headed as well though and if this isn’t going the way of the Union then Martinez, who can lead the press at times, could easily steam into something he shouldn’t do.
However you look at it, 12 cards in 32 appearances this term make Martinez an obvious candidate to enter the notebook at some point in the contest.
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How to watch Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union in the MLS Cup Final?
📅 When is Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union? / Saturday 5th November 2022, 8:00PM
🏟 Where is Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union? / Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles)
📺 What TV channel is Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union on? / Premier Sports 2 / Sky Sports Football
🟨 …And who is the referee for Los Angeles FC v Philadelphia Union? / I.Elfath 🇺🇸