MLS News: LAFC Boss Cerundolo Salutes Bale, Surprises MVP McCarthy After Winning MLS Cup

    LAFC head coach Steve Cerundolo hailed Gareth Bale for his final equalizing breath and backup goaltender John McCarthy for his heroic shootouts amid the chaos of Saturday’s MLS Cup triumph.

    Cerundolo’s side won the MLS Cup by beating Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties after the game ended 3-3 by rules and added time in an incredibly dramatic final at the Bank of California Stadium.

    LAFC goalkeeper Maxim Crepo was sent off in the 116th minute and was left with a suspected broken leg due to a foul on the last player after a nightmarish back pass from Jesus Murillo.

    After a long delay in treatment, Crepo Union took the lead in the 124th minute after Jack Elliott finished from close range, but substitute Bale sent him on a penalty to equalize with a header in the 128th minute.

    Bale, who had only made two starts in 13 appearances for LAFC since his move from Real Madrid in June, was sidelined in the 97th minute before his decisive intervention.

    “He’s a guy with great qualities and a guy who makes big games,” Cerundolo told reporters of the 33-year-old Wales international, Bale.

    “Let’s hope he doesn’t do it in the first World Cup game for all the Americans in the room. [Wales play USA]. But Gareth is still Gareth. He does it in training. He did it this season.

    “When he feels good and healthy, he makes a difference in the games. That is why we involve him in such moments. I wish he was 24.”

    Bale, who scored twice in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, was delighted to contribute to LAFC by reducing the number of players to 10.

    “It’s always a pleasure to score in finals and I seem to have a talent for that,” he said. “It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. Like I said, we’re down to 10 people and I don’t think we were really going to get anything out of the game.

    “A merit for everyone to keep pushing and keep fighting. It was nice to score a goal and help the team. And where it is, I’m not too sure, but it’s a great feeling.”

    Cerundolo added that he was unsure of the extent of Canadian player Crepo’s leg injury, but was full of praise for replacement McCarthy, who saved two penalties to decide the shootout and earn the MVP award.

    “There couldn’t be a better guy,” the LAFC boss said. “Emotionally, John is one of the heartbeats of this team.

    “We know what he can do in penalties. We have seen it. We’ve been training for moments like this and John has made great strides. Like I said, there couldn’t be a better guy and I’m very happy for him and for everyone at LAFC.”

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