Major League Soccer

Atlanta United, Timbers ready for MLS Cup rematch

mls1TIMBERS (11-9-4) VS. ATLANTA UNITED FC (13-9-3)
10 p.m. ET; FS1, TSN2, FOX-D

A rematch of last season’s MLS Cup final is on tap for Sunday night when the Portland Timbers host Atlanta United.

Atlanta United won their first league title in just their second season of existence with last December’s 2-0 win over the Timbers. This week’s match is just a regular-season game, but it still has importance.

Atlanta added to its trophy case Wednesday night with their 3-2 win over Club America of Mexico in the Campeones Cup final. The Five Stripes have won six of their last seven games across all competitions and still have a U.S. Open Cup final to play later this month, hence a chance at a third piece of hardware since early December.

Atlanta United (13-9-3) sits in second place in the Eastern Conference but is just three points behind the Philadelphia Union. Josef Martinez, the MLS Most Valuable Player a season ago, brings his 20 goals into the match at Portland.

“You gotta win the games, period. We’re chasing Philly for sure, but we’re also trying to win road games, which we haven’t done,” Atlanta’s Jeff Larentowicz said. “Portland is a huge test. They’re a good team, obviously the team we beat in the final and they’ll want to stick it to us for sure.”

The Timbers are also on a roll despite being in seventh place in the West. Portland (11-9-4) has lost just once in the past nine league matches and is coming off a 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire Wednesday night at home.

The Timbers will get an Atlanta team that has to travel across the country and is just 3-8 on the road this season. Portland, meanwhile, will play the third match of a whopping 10-game homestand they got for having to play so many consecutive road matches at the beginning of the season with Providence Park undergoing a remodel.

Brian Fernandez, a key signing from Liga MX earlier this season, has 14 goals across all competitions in just over three months with the Timbers. But only one other team has conceded fewer goals on the season then Atlanta United, which has given up just 30 in 25 games.

“We’re going to be up for it,” Timbers defender Zarek Valentin said. “Most important thing is we go out there and get a win and … move up the table. And try to hold ourselves to a high standard no matter what.”

–Field Level Media

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