2022 MLS Cup preview: LAFC vs Philadelphia Union: How to watch, team news, predicted lineups, kickoff time and ones to watch
Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

The 27th MLS season will reach its conclusion when Western Conference champions LAFC face the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Union in the 2022 MLS Cup final at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC had a first-round bye and began their playoff campaign in the Western Conference semifinals with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy in an El Trafico classic followed by a dominant 3-0 victory over Austin in the conference final.

Similarly, Philadelphia also received a bye as the top seed in the East and narrowly beat Cincinnati 1-0 in the East semifinals and gained a measure of revenge on defending champions NYCFC in the conference final with a 3-1 win.

The matchup will feature two teams in their first-ever MLS Cup Final for just the fourth time in league history but this is the first time the top seeds from both conferences have reached the final since 2003.

Team news

LAFC

The Black and Gold have no injury concerns or suspended players for the final.

Philadelphia Union

The only, but perhaps most important player listed here is Alejandro Bedoya with the Philadelphia captain questionable with a hip flexor strain and if he does play, it's likely he won't start.

Predicted lineups

LAFC: Crépeau; Palacios, Chiellini, Murillo, Hollingshead; Acosta, Sánchez, Cifuentes; Bouanga, Arango, Vela

Philadelphia Union: Blake; Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo; Flach, Martínez, McGlynn; Uhre, Carranza

Ones to watch

Cristian Arango (LAFC)

There was talk that the Black and Gold may look to trade the Colombian earlier in the season, but the decision to keep him proved to be a masterstroke.

After scoring 14 goals in 17 games last season and being named MLS Newcomer of the Year, he took his game to another level in 2022, scoring 18 times and being named an MVP finalist.

Arango scored the match-winner in the West semifinals against bitter rivals Los Angeles Galaxy and opened the scoring in the conference final against Austin.

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Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union)

Manager Jim Curtin is adamant the Hungarian should have been in the discussion for MVP and the numbers support the Philadelphia boss' argument.

After struggling to adapt to life in MLS with just four goals in 17 matches last season, Gazdag found the back of the net 22 times and picked up ten assists while playing in all 34 games.

He was held off the scoresheet in the East semifinals against Cincinnati, but grabbed the second goal in the conference final against NYCFC. 

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Previous meeting

In May, the two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in a game that saw Philadelphia take the lead twice.

Gazdag opened the scoring in the ninth minute as he calmly finished after a curling cross by Kai Wagner skipped through the defense and found the Hungarian.

On 56 minutes, the Black and Gold equalized. Arango found space in the middle of the park, made his way into the final third, fed Cifuentes and he flicked a pass to Kwadwo Opoku, whose one-time finish beat Andre Blake.

The Union were back in front as Gazdag collected a chested down pass, created space for himself and quickly found Julian Carranza, who sent a left-footed flick that bent around the keeper and the post for a spectacular goal.

Once more, LAFC would level in the 83rd minute as the last of four successive corner kicks saw the ball fall to Franco Escobar at the far post despite Philadelphia getting the first touch and after Blake made a fine reaction save, he quickly fired home the rebound.

How to watch

The match will be nationally televised by FOX. Spanish-language viewers can tune in to UniMas while TUDN will also provide coverage.

Kick-off is set for 4pm Eastern time and 1pm Western time.

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