New York City FC have their first MLS Cup in franchise history as they defeated the Portland Timbers in their home via a penalty shootout after the match ended 1-1 after regulation and extra time. Founded in 2013, NYCFC got an early goal from Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos who capitalized off some clumsy goalkeeping in wet conditions from Portland keeper Steve Clark. Felipe Mora scored the equalizer at the death as no one was able to find the breakthrough goal in the 30 minutes of extra time. NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson was the hero in this one as he made two clutch saves to secure a 4-2 shootout win to clinch the title.
The Portland Timbers never got things going early on as Sebastian Blanco seemed to be playing at 60 percent after replacing Santiago Moreno in the lineup from the Western Conference final. Early on, both sides were essentially playing a back-and-forth match as the slick field gave them all trouble keeping the ball. There was a point when New York City FC were clear through in the box and Tayvon Gray and Maxi Moralez both slipped in the box for Portland to regain possession. That summed up how the wet conditions were on Saturday at Providence Park.
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Things did open up a little thanks to a Claudio Bravo foul on Tayvon Gray in the 40th minute. Dead ball specialist Moralez sent in the free kick that Castellanos headed into the net, but it's a chance that should have been saved by Clark, who saw the ball slip past his fingers in the wet surface and trickle into the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
This is familiar territory for Clark as he had a similar mistake in 2015 while playing for the Columbus Crew against the Portland Timbers. During the goal celebration, a fan in the stands launched a beer can that struck NYCFC's Jesus Medina high, though it looks like it did end up avoiding his face.
Once New York got their noses ahead, Moralez began pinging passes around the pitch using his experience to manage the game and hold the result. It seemed as if it would have worked out flawlessly, but Filipe Mora had other plans as he made up for his miss earlier in the match by rifling a finish past Sean Johnson in the 94th minute. Mora goal was the latest a goal has ever been scored in regulation of MLS Cup, but New York wanted it ruled out for a foul. Maxime Chanot appealed to head referee Armando Villarreal as his teammates encircled the officials to no avail.
In the first period of extra time, NYCFC seemed disjointed as they weren't able to move on from Portland's equalizer being ruled out. Even with the Timbers having players out of position due to tossing on so many attackers, NYCFC couldn't cut through their defense. Portland veteran Diego Valeri, who likely played the final game of his career, had the best chance for both sides with a shot in space from outside the box but he fired it into the stands behind the box.
NYCFC now join Manchester City (English Premier League), Mumbai City (Indian Super League) and Melbourne City (Australian A League) as the four reigning champions in four different men's top-flight leagues for City Football Group (h/t Bob Williams).