MLS

Not in the Timbers Army? Here's an MLS Cup primer

Timbers go for their 2nd league title in 4 years on December 8

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- OK, so you're not a member of the Timbers Army. Aggregate scoring totals confuse you. You wonder why there are often weeks between games. You may wonder why the games are matches that are played on a pitch.

But you still want the Timbers to win and bring another title to Portland.

The Timbers take on Atlanta United on Saturday, December 8, in a game to be nationally televised on FOX. The winner gets the MLS Cup, the trophy awarded to the league champion. 

So here is your primer for the game. Commit some of these factoids to memory and you'll sound like you know what you're talking about.

THE TEAMS

Atlanta United FC is the clear favorite in the title game. They finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a record of 21-7-6 and were 11-2-4 at home. The game will be played in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

They have a high-powered offense and scored a total of 70 goals in the regular season. Their defense is excellent and surrendered only 44 goals all year, leading to a +26 differential.

The Timbers finished 5th in the Western Conference in coach Giovanni Savarese's first season on the sidelines. They were 15-10-9 overall, with the same home record as Atlanta. But the Timbers were only 4-8-5 on the road during the season.

The Timbers play good defense, and gave up only 48 goals through the course of the season. But they scored only 54, which gives them a +6 differential.

PLAYOFFS

The Timbers knocked out FC Dallas even though they played much of the game short-handed. Then they took on arch-rival Seattle, and over a 2-game aggregate, ousted the Sounders in a thrilling set. Each team scored 4 goals over the 2 games, but the Timbers advanced, 4-2, on penalty kicks.

Portland then had to face Sporting Kansas City, who took the Western Conference regular season title. Portland held them to a 0-0 draw at Providence Park, then stormed from behind in the second half of Game 2 to send Sporting KC to the off-season. Diego Valeri scored in the 9th minute of stoppage time to seal the 3-2 victory.

Atlanta had a slightly easier path. They took on New York City FC and handily dispatched them over 2 games, 4-1.

United FC then had to face the Eastern Conference regular season champ, the New York Red Bulls. But the 2-game set wasn't really even close. Atlanta took the first game, 3-0, then won the aggregate 3-1.

PREVIOUS HISTORY

Atlanta United FC is playing for the title in just their 2nd season in the league. The Timbers won it all in 2015 -- when they went into Columbus and beat them on their home turf.

Portland and Atlanta played to a 1-1 draw in Atlanta on June 24. They also played to a 1-1 draw at Providence Park in 2017.

The Timbers have 9 players on their roster who have won an MLS Cup final, including 8 from that 2015 team. Atlanta has 2, and one of them -- Darlington Nagbe -- was with Portland in 2015

PLAYERS TO KNOW

For Atlanta, Josef Martinez, Miguel Almirón and Héctor Villalba are their 3 top goal scorers. The Timbers top 3 scorers are Diego Valeri, Sebastián Blanco and Samuel Armenteros.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

Put on a Timbers scarf, watch the game and cheer for the home team.

When I root I root for the Timbers  

#RCTID


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