After his performance in the MLS Cup final, Gareth Bale is certain to receive a lot of support from the Los Angeles community.
The Wales captain entered the game in the 97th minute off the bench and scored the game-tying goal against Philadelphia Union with a header in the 128th minute. This resulted in a shootout. And given that Bale hasn’t played a single minute of football in more than a month, the goal caused crazy scenes on the pitch, the touchlines, and in the spectators.
After a penalty shootout, the Los Angeles club won the MLS Cup with a 3-0 victory.
The Welsh legend’s time in California has gotten off to a rocky start, but he has already shown that he is capable of producing magical moments when they count. For once, it was instrumental in getting the trophy to LA.
It’s something that LAFC faithful won’t soon forget. Since he signed with the team in the summer, the club has made the most of promoting its biggest asset despite his many stints on the sidelines due to injuries.
And following his monumental contribution to LAFC’s cup victory, supporters showed up in droves on Sunday to celebrate with the squad.
Crowds of Black and Gold faithful lined the streets as the squad rode through Los Angeles in an open-top bus toting the championship trophy. The bus drove up to the stage where thousands of screaming fans were ready to greet their heroes.
When Bale was introduced, the audience went wild with yells and acclaim; the 33-year-old footballer returned the love by giving the audience a thumbs-up.
Bale has won 19 trophies over his career, so he is no stranger to success under pressure. That man is productive, and head coach Steve Cherundolo knows it. All he wants is for Bale to be cool under pressure when Wales plays the United States in the World Cup later this month.
“He’s a guy with big qualities and a guy who makes big plays,” said head coach Cherundolo of Bale. “Let’s hope he doesn’t in the first game of the World Cup for all the Americans in the room.
“But it’s Gareth being Gareth. He does it in training. He’s done it this season. When he’s feeling well and healthy, he makes a difference in games. That’s why we bring him in in those moments. I wish he was 24.”
Attention will obviously switch quickly to the World Cup, with Wales’ first game – against the US – kicking off in just over two weeks’ time.
Post-match Bale gave an update on his fitness, which will be of particular interest to the Red Wall and manager Rob Page. “I’m feeling better and better as time goes on,” Bale said.
“I’ve had a few setbacks, and had a slight knock a few weeks ago which kept me out for 10 days. It’s just one of those things.
“It’s been difficult mentally now leading into the World Cup. You see now there’s so many players who are dropping out and now are missing the World Cup.
“It’s been difficult mentally and I’m sure it has been for a lot of players. For sure it’s been in the back of my mind to make sure I’m 100% fit. Today I felt good enough to come on the pitch and help the team and I’m happy to see them lifting that trophy.
He added: “I’m not 100% fit at the moment. I’m still coming back.
“I have a few little issues like most players do. But I was able to come on for the last 20-30 minutes and give as much as I can and I came up with a goal to help the team and that’s what I’m here to do I guess.”
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