NYCFC wins MLS Cup, defeating Portland Timbers in shootout
After more than a decade in Major League Soccer, goalkeeper Sean Johnson has finally managed to lift the Championship trophy.
He also won the MLS Cup MVP award.
Johnson stopped two shots on goal in Portland and New York City FC won their first MLS Cup title in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with the Timbers on Saturday. Alex Callens converted his attempt to win the shootout, 4-2.
Afterwards, a teammate filled the glass of champagne and handed it to Johnson, who had a drink. Johnson has been in MLS since 2010, first with the Chicago Fire. He joined the NYCFC in 2017.
âWhat a race so far, this trip was crazy this year. So many highs so many lows, âJohnson said. âWe talked to each other before the game and we just said it was a huge opportunity to make everything worth it. And that’s what we live for, these moments. Being the MVP of the final I mean it means the world but it means so much more lifting the cup for this club. “
Golden Shoe winner Valentin “Taty” Castellanos scored in the first half and it looked like the NYCFC were on their way to the league championship in regulation, but Felipe Mora of Portland scored in stoppage time. to give hope to the Timbers.
Johnson’s NYCFC captain stopped Mora and Diego Valeri’s PKs in the shootout after both teams went scoreless in overtime.
âI just wanted to make sure we stayed level, we’ve been in that position before. I told the guys that we have the experience, not to panic, not to belittle ourselves, because there are more opportunities to go forward and win the game, âhe said. he said about guiding the team to the finish.
NYCFC celebrated in goal after Callens’ conversion, while Valeri was in disbelief in midfield. A group of New York players broke away from the party to greet their fans, gathered in the opposite corner of the stadium.
New York stayed on the pitch long after the victory. Coach Ronny Delia stripped down to his underwear and lifted the trophy.
âI don’t regret it, it was a great moment,â said Delia. “I will continue to do this if we continue to win trophies.”
NYCFC, which joined the league in 2015, had never reached the title game.
Castellanos, who had 19 goals in the regular season, was back in the starting lineup after missing the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia. The Argentina forward received a red card in the conference semifinals against frontrunner New England Revolution, which the NYCFC won on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
New York’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia secured NYCFC a place in the MLS Cup final. NYCFC was the fourth seed in the East after finishing the regular season on 9-14-11.
The Timbers were also placed fourth after going 17-13-4 in the regular season. Portland beat the seeded Colorado Rapids on Thanksgiving Day before beating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Providence Park to win the Western Conference and secure the field for the final.
The Timbers won an MLS Cup in 2015 and advanced to the final in 2018, but fell to Atlanta.
“It’s cruel, it’s sour, it’s hard to accept. Before we can get anything out of it, we have to feel and understand the emotions that we are going to have after this game, not to achieve our goal, to lift the trophy. at home, “said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese.” We couldn’t have imagined a better situation for us than lifting this trophy. So the first thing is to deal with our emotions and realize that it is It’s been that way. The game can be cruel.
The game was hectic at the start, with a brief skirmish erupting in the 25th minute. The players also had to endure rather nasty weather conditions with temperatures in the 40s, regular rains and gusty winds.
Castellanos headed to a free kick from Maxi Moralez in the 40th minute, giving NYCFC the lead. The goal celebration was spoiled when it emerged that New York’s Jesus Medina had been struck by an object thrown by a fan.
It was the first free-kick goal the Timbers had allowed in 20 games.
The Timbers seemed disorganized at times. Mora had one of the best chances in the second half, but his 81st minute shot fell straight into Johnson’s hands. He had another in the 97th, but his header went well over the net.
Mora finally broke through in the dying moments of the four-minute timeout. This is the last goal ever scored in regulation in an MLS Cup.
But the goal was controversial. NYCFC players argued he should be turned down, claiming Maxime Chanot was fouled by Portland’s Larrys Mabiala in the preparation. At the end,
âThe first half was a bit difficult, because New York tried to control the ball, to control the game. They found a way to score against us and made it harder for us,â said Diego. Chara from Portland. âIn the second half we found a way to level the game. I think after that it was different for us, to gain confidence, to play with the ball, and we created a lot of opportunities.
Valeri came on in the 89th minute as speculation about the 35-year-old forward’s retirement swirled.
Valeri was with the Timbers when they won the MLS Cup in 2015, scoring in the opening moments of the 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew. He was named the league’s MVP in 2017 after accumulating 21 goals and 11 assists.
NYCFC joins parent club Manchester City in the Abu Dhabi-funded squad to win a title. The group now partially or fully owns NYCFC and Manchester City, as well as teams in Australia, Belgium, China, France, India, Japan, Spain and Uruguay, also with a partnership in Bolivia.
The Manchester City takeover by owner Sheikh Mansour in 2008 that turned fortunes from a poorly successful side into the Premier League’s most successful side in the past decade.
AP Global Soccer writer Rob Harris contributed to this report.