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MLS Cup Final 11/12/21: Portland Timbers and New York City FC braced for showpiece occasion

After a few frantic weeks of the playoffs, we are down to the last teams that will compete in this weekend’s MLS Cup Final. Portland Timbers will host New York City FC on Saturday, and we will give you the full lowdown on this eagerly anticipated fixture. We will also check in on the latest match odds heading into this clash.

Portland Timbers get MLS Cup home advantage for the first time

While the Portland Timbers have reached the MLS Cup Final before, it will be the first time they will be granted home advantage. And they got there courtesy of a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final. Felipe Mora gave the Timbers the lead inside five minutes. The Timbers then added an insurance goal just after the hour mark.

A fierce strike from Santiago Moreno on the edge of the penalty area cannoned off the post before hitting the back of Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa. It may have been rather fortuitous, but it was richly deserved for the Timbers who were crowned Western Conference champions. And they just need one final push against New York City FC.

Giovanni Savarese realises dream with Portland Timbers

Just 90 minutes stand in the way of the Timbers lifting the MLS Cup. And Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese admitted it was his dream to get to the MLS Cup final since he took over the franchise four years ago. He said: “The dream became a reality. To host the MLS Cup is something that we feel very proud about.”

Sebastian Blanco given chance to recover in time for the MLS Cup Final

The Timbers will be hoping to have Sebastian Blanco back in time to face New York City FC. After picking up a hamstring injury against the Colorado Rapids, Blanco was rested, but he was among the named substitutes. But the Argentine — who has seven goals and seven assists this season — will be eager to help Timbers catch their first MLS Cup title since 2015.

New York City FC leave it late to seal MLS Cup Final spot

While things seemed to be rather routine for the Timbers, New York City FC left it late to confirm their spot in the MLS Cup Final. An 88th-minute winner from substitute Talles Mango got New York City FC over the line with a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia Union. New York City FC will now be contesting their first MLS Cup Final this weekend.

Ronny Deila reborn with New York City FC on the cusp of MLS Cup victory

After a troubled stint in charge of Celtic, Ronny Deila is performing wonders with New York City FC. And now he’s on the cusp of bringing glory to a franchise that has reached the playoffs six years in a row. And when asked about the significance of the win over Union, Deila said: “I said to the boys, ‘enjoy it, because it’s a big thing’.”

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from New York City’s win was the way they used their substitutes. Usually, Deila has been criticised for making changes too late in the game, and they had the latest average time of the substitutions in the MLS this season. However, Deila got his tactics spot on this time around.

Of course, there is still a major hurdle for New York City FC, and there has been plenty of heartbreak through the years. Deila is building something special, and his side have a different dimension. The comeback against Union showed the mental resilience of his charges.

Portland Timbers v New York City FC: A look back at past encounters

In a one-off match, things can fall to chance. A moment of magic or a defensive lapse can often make the difference in a match that is decided on such small margins. However, if we are to look at the head-to-head record, the Timbers are well ahead in this regard.

In their previous meeting, the Timbers cantered to a 3-1 victory. On that day, Blanco, Diego Valeri and Andy Polo weighed in with the goals. But with Valentin Castellanos — who has netted 21 times for New York City FC this season — set to return from suspension, this could swing things in his side’s favour.

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