Atlanta United will host Portland Timbers in the 2018 MLS Cup Final. With loads of talented players across the board, see which ones to watch.
Mercedes Benz Stadium should be filled to capacity when the Portland Timbers come to town on Saturday, December 8. All eyes will be on two of the most supported organizations in MLS. Portland will bring its anti-possession approach against a tactically flexible Atlanta United. The results should be fantastic with such an intriguing tactical match-up ahead.
Although both of these teams are good, the game will come down to individual star players. For Portland, it’s Sebastian Blanco (who scored this stunner in their last playoff game) and last year’s MVP Diego Valeri. For Atlanta, it’s MVP finalists Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez leading the way.
Despite all of the star power set to converge on Atlanta on Saturday night, there will be other players to watch as well. Some of the less notable names will be just as impactful, despite their less flashy work.
With that in mind, here are five players to watch in the MLS Cup Final.
5. Miguel Almiron
Is there any other player to watch? Miguel Almiron has been stealing the hearts of fans and the souls of opposing players since joining the league last year. He is far and away the best player in the league, and it’s sad to think that this will be his last game with Atlanta United as he prepares to head overseas.
Almiron will have his hands (feet?) full on Saturday night against a stout Portland defense. Since Portland doesn’t like to possess the ball, Atlanta will have to find ways to possess and break through the Timbers defense. Almiron will be leading the way, creating chances and finding teammates with open looks.
Almiron’s speed will also play an important factor in this match. Let’s say Atlanta is dispossessed and Portland counterattacks quickly. If Atlanta wins the ball back but Portland’s numbers are already forward, then it will be Almiron who finds the ball and helps lead Atlanta in a counterattack of its own.
If the Final is Almiron’s last game, then it is quite the legacy he’s left behind in Atlanta. His 21 goals and 28 assists across two seasons is outstanding and his services will be missed. Hopefully, he leaves MLS on a high note and with a trophy in hand.