Atlanta United vs Portland Timbers MLS Cup Previewby Cullen McIntyre December 7, 2018 0 comments
After a long MLS season and an exciting MLS Cup playoffs, it has finally come down to the final two teams. With no surprise, Atlanta United tossed everyone out of their way with ease on the way to the MLS Cup finals, while the 2015 MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers had a much more grueling way to the 2018 final.
Atlanta, who finished with the second most points in the MLS, just two behind the New York Red Bulls who they disposed of in the MLS Cup semifinal 3-1 on aggregate. Atlanta is the heavy favorite for the MLS Cup matchup. Portland had a much more grueling battle through the MLS Playoffs, beating the Seattle Sounders 4-2 in a penalty shootout in the Conference Semi-finals, and Sporting Kansas City 3-2 on aggregate in the Conference Finals.
Though Atlanta United has the quality, Portland has the experience. Portland has a stellar road record in the MLS Playoffs, winning five, losing two, and drawing two. In eight of the nine road games, the Timbers scored at least two goals, scoring 17 while conceding 14. However, Atlanta’s goalscoring record is the best in the MLS with 70 goals in the season and Josef Martinez netting an MLS record 34 of those goals.
The hosts, Atlanta United, could be seeing the last of three of their key components in this game. With star players Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron being linked to European sides for big deals, and manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino being linked to the El Tri’s head coaching job, winning the MLS Cup final would be the perfect send-off for the clubs heroes this season—as they led the second season expansion team to an unrivaled season.
Each team will be battling for the perfect ending to a long and hard-fought MLS season. The season that may go down as drawing the most attention to Major League Soccer, with the announcements of a new expansion team in Miami, owned by English legend David Beckham. The season where records where broken, history storylines were created, a fanbase fought for their club to stay, has all come down to this one game.
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday, broadcasting nationally on FOX.