Atlanta United Roll Portland, Win First MLS Cup

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Atlanta United
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 08: Franco Escobar #2 of Atlanta United celebrates after scoring the second goal past goalkeeper Jeff Attinella #1 of Portland Timbers in the second half with Jeff Larentowicz #18 during the 2018 MLS Cup between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Atlanta (December 8, 2018)- Atlanta United rode the goal scoring exploits of Josef Martinez all season long, and the story was no different in their first MLS Cup appearance. Martinez’s first half goal set the pace for Atlanta United as they took care of the Portland Timbers 2-0.

Atlanta United Win First MLS Cup

Josef Martinez got the party started in the 39th minute after Jeff Larentowicz won the ball back in the midfield. His tackle sent the ball into the 18 yard box to a waiting Martinez, who was kept onside by Larrys Mabiala. He dribbled around Jeff Attinella and slotted home to make it 1-0.

The Timbers finally started to get into the game a bit, and Jeremy Ebobisse missed a wide open header to keep it 1-0 going into halftime. With all the fun narratives surrounding Atlanta and blowing leads in championship games, Atlanta United took a massive step towards the MLS Cup with a second goal in the 54th minute.

Miguel Almiron’s free kick was whipped in, with a flick header at the near post to send it back to a wide open Franco Escobar. Escobar slotted home to make it 2-0, setting up a racauos party atmosphere in Atlanta through the final whistle.

Atlanta United ran the table for the most of the season, falling to second place in the east on the final day of the season. They avenged their loss in the Eastern Conference Finals, and were the deserving winners of the 2018 MLS Cup.

After such a promising end to the 2017 season, to endure a heartbreaking playoff loss and then come back the next year and run the table to win it shows a lot about Atlanta United. Tata Martino and Miguel Almiron are guaranteed to move on after this season. However, their legacy has been left behind, setting the tone for the future of soccer in Atlanta. They changed the leg upon entering, and reaped the benefits of their ambition. Their first MLS Cup Final was deserved.

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