Major League Soccer

Atlanta United Wins First MLS Cup

Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in only their second season in the competition with a 2-0 win over Portland Timbers.

MLS Most Valuable Player Josef Martinez opened the scoring on 39 minutes with his 35th goal of the season and Franco Escobar added a second after the break.

It was Atlanta boss Gerardo Martino’s final game in charge before he becomes head coach of Mexico.

“We won it, it feels good,” he said. “If I had to choose a way to leave somewhere, this is the best way.”

“For me, to talk about the final and the championship, it’s good, it’s beautiful. I’m happy, but what has happened over the length of these two years is what will stay with me. The work we did,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s necessary to win a title to think a job was well done.”

Atlanta’s high press forced the Timbers to rush their passes as they looked to get the ball away from danger. However, a heavy touch from Jeremy Ebobisse let center back Michael Parkhurst slide in and push the ball nearly into the box. Liam Ridgewell tried to control the ball but instead put it into the path of Josef Martinez, who took one touch to get around Attinella and another to give Atlanta the advantage.

Franco Escobar doubled the lead in the 54th minute. Almiron bent a free kick into the box from the left side of Atlanta’s attack. Martinez flicked it on and Escobar was at the back post to finish and celebrate his second playoff goal.

“For me personally, this is up there with the top moments,” said Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who previously played for Aston Villa, Hull and Middlesbrough.

“You never know if you’re going to have this opportunity again.”

Atlanta, who finished second in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, were formed in 2014 and only started playing in MLS in 2017.

Victory is the city’s first major pro sports title since 1995 when the Atlanta Braves baseball team won the MLB World Series.

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