It was a real thriller that nearly 23,000 L.A. football fans turned out on Saturday. went twice The local club, coached by former Hannover 96 pro Stephen Chirondulo, leads the way. But Flash’s team always managed to equalize: he went into overtime.
Following a model from DFB player Kai Wagner, Philadelphia striker Jack Elliott blew 3:2 a few minutes before the final whistle – it looked as if Flach was indeed going to become the MLS champion. But only a short time later – in the 128th minute of the game – Gareth Bale, once the most expensive football player in the world, saved Los Angeles on penalties.
Philadelphia without penalty kicks
Flach was on the field with his club for 129 minutes, but the 21-year-old was not allowed to receive a penalty – but teammate Wagner was. Baden-Württemberger was one of three union players who all failed because of goalkeeper John McCarthy. Los Angeles managed to win the title again.
Before the final, Leon Flach spoke to NDR Schleswig-Holstein about the upcoming final, his World Cup hopes, the importance of football in Philadelphia, and his big problem finding a good kebab shop.
NDR Schleswig-Holstein: Lyon, Season 1 Semifinals, Season 2 Finals – Did last season’s experience help this year?
Leon Flat: Of course, experience helps. This is also a development process, especially in the playoffs. Then you’ll also know what’s more important and what’s a little less important. But in the end it’s all about winning, no matter how you achieve it. I think we took another step forward as a team. I think this experience will definitely help us there.
How much are you looking forward to the LA game with Stephen Chirondolo as coach, Giorgio Chiellini in defense and possibly Gareth Bale up front?
flat: This is of course amazing! They also have a really great attacking player in Carlos Vela, who also showed his ability in Europe and then playing against Giorgio Chiellini is kind of a childhood dream. You really know him from various finals, including the European Championship. It’s just a dream. And if Gareth Bale had to play, then naturally, of course, they would have a lot of power. But I think we are ready to hurt anyone and we are ready.
You’re in the Finals, the Phillies in the World Series (baseball), the Eagles in the NFL – how much interest is in now for you and football?
flat: I think the interest is definitely growing. Overall, Philadelphia is in a really great mood right now when it comes to sports. Everyone is willing to support each other and you can say that. We’ve gotten a lot more attention now than last year because the wins have put us on a different screen and I think that’s remarkable. But sports in general are great for Philadelphia right now and that affects all things sports.
I spent two years in the USA – how many letters and how many comments do you still get from Germany and especially from Schleswig-Holstein?
flat: Yes, I still get a lot of messages. will be more. More and more people are following the league and my career individually. I am always happy with every message and of course I follow what is happening at home. But yeah, I still get a lot of messages and I’m really happy with each one.
And vice versa – which Nordclub do you look at the most, what results do you check first when you wake up in the morning?
flat: Yes, of course! I already watch a lot of St. Pauli games and I’m still checking the results there and at HSV too, of course. In St. Pauli I try to watch as many matches as possible. You still have a little connection and that connection to the club only. Of course, this will remain after I played for a long time (2016-2021). That’s why I still watch a lot of games and always look directly at their way of playing when I couldn’t.
No matter how things go on Saturday – do you definitely want to stay in the US or maybe see you again in Germany?
flat: Of course, in football you never know what will happen. Of course I can imagine going back at some point. But now I really like it here. We want to play the final on Saturday first and then of course we’ll see how things go. I do this with my parents and my advisor. I’m really comfortable about that now. We’ve played such a great season, I’m taking everything my way, just enjoy the moment and then we’ll see.
The World Cup is yet to come – what are you going to do next month? Have you already contacted Hansi Flick or Greg Berhalter (US coach)?
flat: (laughs) Nobody called, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I have my career here at the club. This is where I focus. But of course I wouldn’t say no, but you have to be realistic. For the future, I would, of course, wish to, one way or another, slip into it no matter where. This is the big goal of every player. But I will let it all come to me.
How do you see and how the Americans view the World Cup in Qatar?
flat: Americans are very excited about the World Cup. They want to show everyone that they are now a footballing nation. They are really very demanding, also in terms of qualifying at the time. I think they have a good team, but the World Cup is just a tournament, which in some way always leads to results that you would not have expected. Of course, Team USA doesn’t have much experience anymore either, because many players are simply new to the team. That’s why we’ll see, but they are definitely very hot and wishing for a good result.
The most important question in the end: did you find a good kebab shop near you?
flat: still not. But I feel so happy when I come home to the good kebab I’ve been to. I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time!
Interviewed by Samir Shawky, NDR Schleswig-Holstein
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