Will Atlanta United's MLS Cup be C-Beams glittering or tears in rain?
Background photo: Atlanta Falcons, CC BY 3.0
The MLS Cup plays tonight between Atlanta United and Portland Timbers at 8PM local time, 1AM in the UK. Don't roll your eyes at me. Fair is fair. You stayed up late [or came in early] for Tyson Fury; you can do the same for this title fight. Best, it promises to be just as exciting. Both teams know how to score. Neither is exceptionally good in their own third. Goals are on offer.
The atmosphere will be electric. On the outside, Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium looks like one of those little origami animals Edward James Olmos' character, Gaff, loved to leave behind for Harrison Ford's Deckard to find in the original Blade Runner. On the inside, it seats over 70,000. The team only opens the upper deck for big matches [hello]. Either way, they sell out often. United set a Major Soccer League record by averaging more than 52,000 per game in 2018. This in their second season, after the novelty 'wore off' for Georgia residents accustomed to gridiron, hoops and baseball. Why not, though, when the Eastern Conference champions play fast, attractive football and just keep winning?
Western Conference winners Portland have been here before, albeit under a different manager. Caleb Porter brought them east to Columbus in 2015 to deny new USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter his first trophy as a bench boss.
Stability is one of the storylines in this final, as is youth and at least one fond farewell. Here are the five most compelling.