Watch all the goals and key plays as Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers battle for the 23rd MLS Cup title.

By Avi Creditor
December 08, 2018

Atlanta United had home-field advantage, enjoyed the better regular season and was the prohibitive favorite to win MLS Cup. The hosts did not disappoint in the least.

Goals from Josef Martinez and Franco Escobar gave Atlanta a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers in front of a record crowd of 73,019 at a boisterous Mercedes-Benz Stadium, securing the club's first MLS Cup title in its second season of existence. Portland had proven to be a resilient side in these MLS playoffs, but it couldn't muster the moments needed to turn the tide against a home side fixated on winning the title.

The atmosphere in Atlanta was electric from the start, between the capacity crowd and the rousing rendition of the national anthem by 7-year-old viral sensation Malea Emma.

On the field, Atlanta United looked to score early on, with the first apparent chance coming from reigning league MVP, Martinez. He couldn't quite turn in a cross from Escobar on the right, missing wide of the mark, but Escobar had been whistled for a handball in the build-up, nullifying the chance regardless.

Portland escaped another scare from Martinez in the 15th minute. The Venezuelan appeared to be tripped up by Larrys Mabiala as both went to meet a cross. Referee Alan Kelly didn't give a penalty in real time, and after a video review, he waved play on without granting the spot kick.

Atlanta continued to keep the pressure on, and it looked to strike through former Timber Darlington Nagbe, who whizzed a long-range blast over the crossbar in the 23rd minute.

The next chance came from Miguel Almiron. The MVP runner-up opted for the acrobatic effort off the cross from Greg Garza and had the upper left-hand corner picked out, but Jeff Attinella reacted in time, making a sprawling save to keep the match scoreless.

The dam finally broke in the 39th minute. The goal came off a poor giveaway by the Timbers, with Jeremy Ebobisse trying to hold up the ball, only to take a heavy touch. Michael Parkhurst pounced and poked the ball forward toward Martinez, who won it from Liam Ridgewell, rounded Attinella and rolled in the opener.

After showing little in the attack all half, Portland nearly struck for an equalizer before halftime. Ebobisse got in position for a point-blank header, but Brad Guzan reacted in time, diving to his right to make a strong save on the goal line.

Portland threatened during a couple of moments early in the second half, but Atlanta was the one to find the back of the net next. It came off a set piece, with Escobar slotting home from the far post after Martinez's glanced header to make it 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Portland turned up the heat in the final 30 minutes, and Sebastian Blanco had a great chance to pull one back in the 62nd minute, forcing a save from Guzan off an open look from 16 yards.

The Timbers hardly threatened from there, with Guzan making the saves necessary down the stretch and Martinez and Almiron getting the opportunity to receive curtain calls with time to spare as Atlanta celebrated its title triumph.

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