Atlanta United lifts MLS Cup with 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers
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Kevin C. Cox
Tata Martino's final match in charge of the Five Stripes resulted in the club's first-ever piece of silverware

Two years, one title.

In its sophomore season, Atlanta United won MLS Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

It was the last game for Atlanta United manager Tata Martino, who is set to leave the club after coaching it during its first two years of existence. The Five Stripes went into the contest as heavy favorites and showed why, controlling the contest and getting a goal in both halves to put the first piece of silverware in their trophy case.

Miguel Almiron nearly opened the scoring with an acrobatic scissor kick in the 29th minute. Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made the stop, tipping the Paraguayan's effort over the crossbar and out for a corner kick.

The actual first goal of the match was less spectacular. Atlanta's high press forced the Timbers to rush their passes as they looked to get the ball away from danger. However, a heavy touch from Jeremy Ebobisse let center back Michael Parkhurst slide in and push the ball nearly into the box. Liam Ridgewell tried to control the ball but instead put it into the path of Josef Martinez, who took one touch to get around Attinella and another to give Atlanta the advantage.

Franco Escobar doubled the lead in the 54th minute. Almiron bent a free kick into the box from the left side of Atlanta's attack. Martinez flicked it on and Escobar was at the back post to finish and celebrate his second playoff goal.

From there manager Martino saw his team defend the lead and see him off with a title that the crowd of 73,019 was able to celebrate.

The win means Atlanta will host the Campeones Cup in August 2019 against Liga MX Campeon de Campeones. It also puts the New York Red Bulls through into the 2019 Concacaf Champions League as the team with the second best aggregate record in 2017 and 2018 behind Atlanta, which now qualifies as the MLS Cup winner thanks to Saturday's triumph.

The Timbers accepted their runner-up medals after a positive year in Giovanni Savarese's first season as an MLS manager. The former New York Cosmos coach guided the Timbers to a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference during the regular season and a playoff run that saw the team get past FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.

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