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ATLANTA CLOSE IN ON MLS CUP PLACE

MLS club side Atlanta United have one foot in the Major League Soccer (MLS) championship match after seeing off New York Red Bulls 3-0 in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final on Sunday.

Elsewhere in the Western Conference, it was a tough game between the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City in which both teams were forced to share the spoils at the end of the match.

Atlanta opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Josef Martinez found himself unmarked in the opposition’s box and made no mistake with his finish. The prolific striker set a new MLS record with his 31 league goals in the regular season.

 

New York Red Bulls thought they had found their equalizer early in the second half when Bradley Wright-Phillips poked the ball home from close range but they had the goal chalked off for offside after a video review caught Alex Muyl offside.

 

Second half goals from Franco Escobar and Hector Villalba added gloss to the score-line, ensuring Atlanta United take a well-deserved comfortable lead to New York for the return leg on Thursday.

 

The Red Bulls or Atlanta United will host the MLS Cup on December 8 as both teams recorded more points in the regular season than either of the two Western conference semi-finalists.

 

The Timbers, who had high hopes of reaching the Cup final for just the second time in four years, were left disappointed after receiving a humbling defeat in front of their own fans on their home ground on Sunday but the manager is confident of getting a result in Kansas.

 

Speaking to The Oregonian, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said, “Definitely we wanted to get a win at home, but also they didn’t get any goals”.

“Now, we have to go there, make sure that we prepare with the days that we have and give everything we have to try to go through.”