Eight months after the Portland Timbers fell to Atlanta United in the 2018 MLS Cup Final, the two side will finally meet again when they face off tonight at Providence Park. Atlanta need three points if they are going to regain ground on the Philadelphia Union at the top of the East, while the Timbers have the chance to end the weekend in 4th place in the Western Conference if they can hold on to all three points on offer.
There have been significant changes to both sides since they last met in the Final. The Timbers are sporting a new stadiums expansion, an emerging youth movement, and an exciting new designated player in Brian Fernandez. Atlanta, on the other hand, have a new coach in Frank de Boer who has not always been able to get the best out of his side, lost Miguel Almiron, and brought in a replacement designated player — the talented but still struggling Pity Martinez — who brings a very different style to this Atlanta side.
With plenty on the line for both sides and no difference in form between them — both teams have taken 12 of their last fifteen points available — the Timbers will need to make the most of their home field advantage. Since winning their last two matches at Providence Park, the Timbers have moved to a record of 5-1-2 at home with their only loss coming to league-demolishing Los Angeles FC back in June. Atlanta, meanwhile, have struggled on the road, amassing a 3-8-0 record away from home so far this season.
Storylines: “Look for them to mainly attack down the middle of the pitch, with Darlington Nagbe directing things from the midfield. He’s come into his own in ATL and is a key weapon the the Five Stripes’ attack. If you can slow down Nagbe, you can slow down the Five Stripes. He has only one goal and two assists this season, but what Nagbe does for Atlanta United doesn’t always show up on the score sheet.”
Stop by the Rose City Forecast to make your predictions about tonight’s match.
Watch it on: FOX Sports 1
Where: Providence Park in Portland, OR
When: Sunday, August 18th at 7:00 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 11-9-4, 7th place in the Western Conference, won 3-2 vs. Chicago Fire
Atlanta United: 13-9-3, 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, won 2-1 vs. New York City FC