Atlanta United v Portland Timbers – Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 01:00 GMT live at Sky Sports Football
The biggest game in MLS takes place this weekend as Atlanta United host Portland Timbers at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The prize is the MLS Cup and both will be desperate to lift the trophy. For those who are unfamiliar with MLS then this match basically pitts the winner the Eastern Conference playoffs against the winner of the Western ones. Due to Atlanta United having the better regular season record, they get the right to host the event in a ‘one-off’ match. 90 mins will be played and if the scores are level then extra time, with penalties following if needed. Away goals do not count in this final. All is set for a fantastic night of football in front of a sellout crowd at this magnificent arena. Ever since it opened midway through last season, the Mercedes Benz Stadium has had one of the best atmospheres in MLS. There won’t be a lack of away support either, as the league increased the amount of Timbers tickets to nearly 2,000 due to high demand.
Atlanta United are led by their key attacking duo of striker Josef Martinez and playmaker Miguel Almiron. The latter has been linked with clubs as big as Arsenal and has a fantastic technique. Together, Martinez and Almiron have combined to produce 47 goals and 18 assists this season. United, of course, have other stellar attacking options such as Hector Villalba, Ezequiel Barco and Julian Gressel. At the back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez has to be classed as the standout defender and the last line of defence, goalkeeper Brad Guzan has been extremely solid ever since he joined the club last summer. On the Portland Timbers side, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are without a doubt their two key attacking players. Valeri has a brilliant record in MLS and was named the MVP of the whole league in 2017. He can make things happen out of nothing, as can Blanco who scored an absolute worldie of a goal in the last round away at Sporting Kansas City which totally changed the complex of the tie. The Timbers will likely come under plenty of pressure here though so will at times have to rely on defenders like Liam Ridgewell and possibly Larrys Mabiala if he’s deemed fit enough.
The last two MLS Cup finals have both been fairly tight, although on each occasion we saw Toronto FC host Seattle Sounders. That type of fixture was never going to promote attacking football with the Sounders more than happy to defend deep. Whether or not Portland have that sort of ability here is questionable. Their best option might be to fight fire with fire and there is no doubt that Giovanni Savarese’s men will have counter attack opportunities. Atlanta will control possession and have most of the ball though. From a betting point of view, I think this is a tough match. United are a -1.25 Asian Handicap favourite which to be brutally honest feels way too short. Yes, they are at home but this is an MLS Cup final and the stakes are high. The regular season meeting between the two sides ended 1-1 so Portland won’t be overawed by the occasion. I do think Atlanta will win this MLS Cup, but quite how comfortably or in what fashion I’m not sure. My pick for the game is going to be over 2.75 goals. You have to go all the way back to 2012 for the last time an MLS Cup final contained at least four goals but this one has a chance of delivering a great spectacle. There is enough attacking talent on show to deliver an over match. Of course, there is always a risk that a final can bring a tight and cagey affair but all things considered, I think there’s a decent opportunity goals can flow.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 goals at 1.930
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.