MLS playoffs: Atlanta United, Portland Timbers advance to MLS Cup

Portland Timbers to face Atlanta United in MLS Cup final

Atlanta United reach MLS Cup final in their second ever season after seeing off New York Red Bulls

- Atlanta United is getting ready for the second leg of the Eastern Conference final against the Red Bulls on Thursday and a possible trip to the MLS Cup. 'It makes yourself ask yourself questions: "What could I do more? Prepare the plan, prepare the players to make sure that we get there, recover a few of the guys that were not available (Sunday) and then make sure we go there to win". "Where can I improve?" United was knocked out by Columbus on penalty kicks in the first playoff round of its expansion.

With the temperature around 40 and an announced crowd of 22,137 on the late autumn night, Atlanta played with five men back and often 10 behind the ball in a classic "park the bus" defensive strategy.

Atlanta heads into the match with a 3-0 advantage after last Sunday's first leg. Any goal scored on Thursday night by United will be an away goal, which would be the tiebreaker should the matchup finish tied after two legs.

As for going to Atlanta, Portland did that once this season, playing to a 1-1 draw in June.

But the blame shouldn't be pinned on starting lineups, or tactics, or a system implemented in one particular game.

"We would have played every game at home this year, " NY midfielder Tyler Adams said, ruing the first-leg defeat. Jeff Larentowicz played a long ball into the attacking half where Darlington Nagbe took a heavy touch and Tyler Adams attempted to gather the loose ball.

Guzan made five saves, while New York's Luis Robles had four.

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"I think we've had some big performances throughout the year where we had to sit on leads and grind wins out", Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst told Goal. Diego Valeri scored a pair of goals, one of them in stoppage time, and Sebastian Blanco had the other as the Timbers squeaked out a 3-2 victory to advance to the MLS Cup for the second time in four years.

"We have to go there and try to get a win", Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said.

NY appeared to go ahead for a moment in the 80th minute. In the 80th minute, Aaron Long was ruled to have fouled goalkeeper Brad Guzan while heading in a shot. But the goal was disallowed on a video review.

After the season, the coach is expected to move on to manage Mexico's national.

But when referee Kevin Stott took a look at the replay, it clearly showed Alex Muyl lingering offside behind the last Atlanta defender as Wright-Phillips connected with the shot. The 19-year-old midfielder probably will transfer to RB Leipzig.

"We talked about being organized, talking to each other, communicating, and ultimately being intense, and getting in guys faces and making it hard for our opposition, whether it was NYC or Red Bulls", Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said.

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