This Major League Soccer champion got started at 20th and Olney

November 8, 2022

John McCarthy, ’14, won MLS Cup this year with LAFC.

John McCarthy, ’14, can add two new lines to his professional soccer résumé: Major League Soccer champion and MLS Cup MVP.

An all-time great with La Salle University’s men’s soccer program, McCarthy and Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) won the MLS championship by defeating the Philadelphia Union, 3-0, in a penalty shootout following a 3-3 draw in MLS Cup on Nov. 5.

A reserve goalkeeper for LAFC, McCarthy came on in the final minutes of extra time after the club’s primary goalie sustained an injury. That, alone, made history. (McCarthy was the first goalkeeper to enter the MLS championship game as a substitute.) Moments later, he made two saves in the shootout and became the first goalie to shut out an opponent in an MLS Cup penalty shootout.

For his effort, McCarthy earned the MLS Cup MVP award. As he received the honor, McCarthy dabbed away tears with his uniform—revealing a La Salle Soccer t-shirt underneath.

It was a remarkable performance for McCarthy, who had not even appeared in a league game for LAFC since May 14. The championship is McCarthy’s first in a seven-year professional playing career, one that started with four seasons with his hometown Union. The 30-year-old Philadelphia native played 34 matches for the Union, from 2015–18. Ironically, it was the Union whom McCarthy vanquished to win MLS Cup.

At La Salle, McCarthy remains the Explorers’ all-time leader with 468 saves, 28 shutouts, and 75 games played. He also holds the best career save percentage in program history.

Interestingly, a La Salle alumnus was bound to win MLS Cup—regardless of the match’s result. Ryan Richter, ’11, who played for the Explorers from 2007–10, completed his first year as a Philadelphia Union assistant coach. The former MLS pro scored 28 goals at La Salle, ranking sixth among the program’s all-time leaders.

Listen to this archived edition of the 20th & Olney podcast for an interview with La Salle alum John McCarthy, ’14.

—Christopher A. Vito