A city that has been starved of sports success is looking to erase years of heartache in one fell swoop. Atlanta has seen a lot over the years. The city saw two hockey teams leave town, experienced agony after agony with a baseball team that set a record for most division titles but only won one World Series title, dealt with consistently bad basketball teams, and experienced 28-3. Despite all of that, Atlanta United have been embraced by the city from their outset and they are looking to repay that support in a big way with an MLS Cup title in just their second season. Only the Portland Timbers stand in the way now.
Don't miss the MLS Cup Final from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 8, 2018. Catch every moment of the match live on FOX.
MLS Betting at BookMaker.eu
Atlanta United -216
Portland Timbers +579
Over/Under 2.5 and 3
The Portland Timbers have overcome some pretty tall odds to get to the MLS Cup Final. Portland was the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, and that has meant a lot of road games. In the knockout round, they defeated FC Dallas 2-1 despite being down to 10 men for the last third of the match. They followed that up with a banger of a showdown with the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals that was eventually decided by penalties. The Timbers saved the best for last though when they faced Sporting KC in the Western Conference Final. Things were tight after a scoreless first leg in Portland, but the Timbers were able to crack the best defense in the West on the counter in the second leg. Sebastian Blanco knocked in the first goal and Diego Valeri added two more to give the Timbers a 3-2 win in order to advance to the MLS Cup Final.
Atlanta United failed to win the Supporter’s Shield after a loss to Toronto FC in the last game of the regular season, but they earned a first-round bye and turned New York into a home away from home in the playoffs. Atlanta had little trouble with New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals, defeating the club 4-1 on aggregate, setting up a match with the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final. Atlanta jumped on the Red Bulls early in the home leg and played more defensively in the second tilt to get a 3-1 victory on aggregate to advance to the MLS Cup Final.
Roy Miller and Jake Gleeson are long-term injuries for Portland ahead of this game. Neither one will suit up and the club hopes that both will be able to return in 2019. Forward Samuel Armenteros is questionable to play due to a thigh injury, while center back Larrys Mabiala is questionable due to an ankle issue.
There are three long-term injuries to report for the side of Atlanta United. Sal Zizzo, Mikey Ambrose, and Brandon Vazquez have all been out for a while, and all three players will be unavailable for this match. Defender Chris McCann is expected to miss the match too with a strained quad that has kept him out since the start of the postseason.
Player to Watch
For Portland to pull off the upset, Diego Valeri is going to need to be a magic man. Valeri has been incredible this season, and while he won’t repeat as MLS MVP, he has been the talisman for the Timbers all year. He is constantly pushing forward on the attack and putting his teammates in good position, and Valeri is likely to be a factor in any Portland goals.
MLS Prop Bet – Portland Timbers 1H PK and +0.5 at +130
The Timbers have acquitted themselves pretty well this postseason, and they have proven they are able to score, particularly on the counter. Atlanta will likely control the possession battle, but Portland should be able to have some success when they win possession with space as that unleashes Valeri and the dangerous midfield.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
These teams met once in the regular season and it ended in a 1-1 draw. Portland won’t be intimidated by Atlanta’s electric home atmosphere, and the Timbers will effectively counter to give the city of Atlanta even more sports heartbreak.
Major League Soccer Odds: Portland Timbers 3, Atlanta United 2 (ET)
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