MLS Cup: Gareth Bale: “Always nice to score in finals” – Steven Cherundolo: “It is pretty wild”

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MLS Cup: Gareth Bale: “Always nice to score in finals” – Steven Cherundolo: “It is pretty wild”

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Reactions from the final 

LAFC have won their first MLS Cup title on Saturday afternoon, beating the Philadelphia Union 6-3 after penalties (to the match report). The mastermind behind the MLS Cup victory? Former Bundesliga star Cherundolo. Cherundolo came in last winter to replace Bob Bradley, who, up to this point, had been the only coach in LAFC history.

Bradley has been a towering figure in the club’s history, winning a Supporters’ Shield in 2019. But Bradley could never win an MLS Cup; that honor of being the first coach in LAFC history to win a national trophy now belongs to a Man who, up until getting the LAFC job, struggled to get an opportunity in coaching. Cherundolo played 15 years in Germany for Hannover 96 and then continued at the club as a youth coach. But whether it was there or later at the DFB or VfB Stuttgart, Cherundolo never got the chance as a first-team coach. 

Instead, that opportunity arrived with the Las Vegas Lights, a USL Championship side that also doubles as LAFC’s farm team. “The business as a coach or player is not plannable,” Cherundolo said in the press conference following the MLS Cup final. “You need to be ready for them because the worst thing you can do as a coach is to step into a situation you are not prepared for, and when you are looking for a job, it’s about preparing yourself for the opportunity and being ready for it. I think the title speaks for itself.” 

Insigne, Almada & Co. – The most valuable MLS players

Jefferson Savarino | Real Salt Lake City | Market value: $6.6m

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Djordje Mihailovic | CF Montréal | Market value: $6.6m

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Efraín Álvarez | LA Galaxy | Market value: $6.6m

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Ryan Gauld | Vancouver Whitecaps FC | Market value: $7.15m

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Carles Gil | New England Revolution | Market value: $7.7m

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Riqui Puig | LA Galaxy | Market value: $7.7m

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Brenner | FC Cincinnati | Market value: $7.7m

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Facundo Torres | Orlando City SC | Market value: $7.7m

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Dániel Sallói | Sporting Kansas City | Market value: $8.25m

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Gabriel Slonina | Chicago Fire FC | Market value: $8.25m

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Lucas Zelarayán | Columbus Crew | Market value: $8.8m

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Josef Martínez | Atlanta United FC | Market value: $8.8m

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Federico Bernardeschi | Toronto FC | Market value: $8.8m

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Hany Mukhtar | Nashville SC | Market value: $8.8m

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Denis Bouanga | Los Angeles FC | Market value: $8.8m

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Luiz Araújo | Atlanta United FC | Market value: $8.8m

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Jesús Ferreira | FC Dallas | Market value: $8.8m

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Alan Velasco | FC Dallas | Market value: $8.8m

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Cucho Hernández | Columbus Crew | Market value: $9.9m

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Sebastián Driussi | Austin FC | Market value: $11.0m

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Emanuel Reynoso | Minnesota United FC | Market value: $11.0m

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José Cifuentes | Los Angeles FC | Market value: $11.0m

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Talles Magno | New York City FC | Market value: $11.0m

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Thiago Almada | Atlanta United FC | Market value: $16.5m

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Lorenzo Insigne | Toronto FC | Market value: $22.0m

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Cherundolo on replacing Bradley: “You shouldn’t change what is working” 

“I have coached developmental, which is a different way to coach players; they have a different goal,” Cherundolo said when asked about replacing Bradley. But the 43-year-old was quick to point out that he did not change much once he took over LAFC ahead of the season. “What is working, you shouldn’t change because that takes a lot of energy and effort and resources; what’s working, hold onto, and what isn’t working change. And that was my process during the interview process, and it convinced the right people.” 

What followed next was a 67-point season and a second Supporters’ Shield for LAFC. But unlike his predecessor Bradley, Cherundolo could now get the job done in the playoffs leading his side to the final and then winning the game in penalties. Interestingly enough, the victory would not have been possible without a major change in extra-time when Cherundolo brought on Garth Bale in the 97th minute of extra-time. 

MLS Player of the Season: Vote now!

“It is a piece that we have on our roster that I have that maybe Philly didn’t have,” Cherundolo said when asked about bringing on Bale. And Bale would have an impact scoring the 3-3 equalizer in the 128th minute to send the game to a penalty shootout. “It was pretty wild,” Cherundolo said when asked about the up and downs of the match. 

Bale, Chicharito, Vela & Co.: The 25 top selling MLS jerseys in 2022

25. Gyasi Zardes | Colorado Rapids | Market value: €2.5m

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24. Douglas Costa | LA Galaxy | Market value: €2.5m

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23. Lorenzo Insigne | Toronto FC | Market value: €20m

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22. Johnny Russell | Sporting Kansas City | Market value: €2m

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21. Luiz Araújo | Atlanta United | Market value: €8m

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20. Miles Robinson | Atlanta United | Market value: €5m

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19. Carles Gil | New England Revolution | Market value: €7m

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18. Diego Chara | Portland Timbers | Market value: €200,000

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17. Hany Mukhtar | Nashville SC | Market value: €8m

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16. Nicolás Lodeiro | Seattle Sounders | Market value: €2.5m

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15. Diego Fagúndez | Austin FC | Market value: €3m

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14. Cristian Roldan | Seattle Sounders | Market value: €6m

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13. Lucas Zelarayán | Columbus Crew | Market value: €8m

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12. Sebastián Driussi | Atlanta United | Market value: €10m

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11. Valentín Castellanos | NYCFC | Market value: €12m

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Now at Girona FC

10. Walker Zimmerman | Nashville SC | Market value: €3.5m

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9. Jordan Morris | Seattle Sounders | Market value: €5m

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8. Xherdan Shaqiri | Chicago Fire | Market value: €5m

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7. Karol Swiderski | Charlotte FC | Market value: €5m

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6. Raúl Ruidíaz | Seattle Sounders | Market value: €6m

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5. Josef Martínez | Atlanta United | Market value: €8m

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4. Chichartio | LA Galaxy | Market value: €2m

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3. Carlos Vela | LAFC | Market value: €3.5m

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2. Christian Fuchs | Charlotte FC | Market value: €500,000

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1. Gareth Bale | LAFC | Market value: €3m

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MLS Cup hero Gareth Bale: “It is always nice to score in finals” 

In Bale, Cherundolo has a player capable of coming off the bench and scoring in clutch moments. The 33-year-old, after all, has done it on the greatest stage in the Champions League finals for Real Madrid. It was, therefore, written in the stars that Bale would also score a key goal in this game. “Everybody has been able to chip in, and it was nice to be able to do that,” Bale said after the game. 

With that goal, Bale has done exactly what LAFC wanted to accomplish with the transfer. For the most part, the Welsh national team player was a part-time player, and at some point, there was doubt whether the deal had made sense at all. “It has been a difficult transition coming in without a preseason,” Bale said. “I been trying to catch up, and also, relocating the family wasn’t easy, but I have tried to keep as fit as possible and help the team as much as I can.” 

But with that goal, all the doubters have been silenced as he was the all-important puzzle piece to secure the title. “The reason I came here was to help the club win a trophy,” Bale said. “They have come close in the past but never got to a final and won it.” Thanks to Bale and Cherundolo, they did exactly that in the most dramatic fashion. 


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