For four minutes, Jack Elliott was on top of Major League Soccer, but it suddenly came crashing down.
Elliott and the Philadelphia Union fell to Los Angeles FC in the MLS Cup Final on Saturday after falling in penalty kicks in a 3-3 thriller. The former WVU star netted a brace in the championship, including what seemed like the game-winner in the 124th minute before LAFC equalized with just a minute to go.
Elliott was the Union’s hero in the club’s first-ever trip to the MLS Cup Final when the 6-foot-6 center-back scored a rocket header in the 85th minute to equalize, forcing extra time to decide a winner.
The extra time period was chaotic as LAFC went a man down in the 116th minute. Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau received a red card for a dangerous challenge on Philadelphia’s Cory Burke. While Crepeau sustained an injury on the play, his red card forced LAFC to sub off Kwadwo Opoku for backup keeper John McCarthy — coincidentally, a native Philadelphian and a former Union player.
The red card, injury and subsequent review of the booking forced the official to add nine minutes of stoppage time to the end of the game.
Elliott took advantage of the man advantage during a frenzied episode in front of the net, cleaning up a rebound save by McCarthy to put Union up in the 124th minute. That goal was a record-setting one as the latest goal ever scored in an MLS match.
That record might end up being a record in itself, as LAFC equalized just four minutes later. Gareth Bale out-jumped the towering Elliott in the 128th minute to force penalty kicks.
Bale, a Welsh superstar with storied stints at Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid, hadn’t played for LAFC since Oct. 2, and he was subbed on in the opening minutes of extra time.
McCarthy ended up making two saves in the shootout as the Union went without scoring a penalty, giving LAFC its first-ever MLS title in its short history. The 30-year-old goalkeeper was named the game’s MVP.
Despite the loss, Elliott was the highest-rated player of the game, earning an 8.8 from FotMob and an 8.0 from MLS.com. On top of the brace, he was nearly perfect in the defensive third, winning all four of his tackles, making six clearances and blocking two shots. He also won four of his seven ground duels and five of his seven aerial duels.
Elliott finished the 2022 campaign with four goals in 32 starts with an average FotMob rating of 7.35.