Timbers beat KC 3-2 to earn MLS Cup trip

After a record-breaking season Red Bulls need impact players and not more of the same

Atlanta United advanced to Major League Soccer's championship match in just its second season, losing to the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Thursday night on a goal in second-half stoppage time but winning the two-match Eastern Conference final by a 3-1 aggregate score. 'It makes yourself ask yourself questions: "What could I do more? Over the course of those weeks and months as we were forming the team, writing names, erasing different names, and trying to sign the players that we needed for the squad". "Where can I improve?"'

With the temperature around 40 and an announced crowd of 22,137 on the late autumn night, Atlanta played with five men back and often 10 behind the ball in a classic "park the bus" defensive strategy.

The Five Stripes had all but guaranteed their progress to the final after taking a decisive 3-0 lead in their first leg at Atlanta on Sunday.

Martínez scored a record 31 goals this season, and the Red Bulls couldn't stop him in the first leg. "It was a hard-fought 0-0 game on Sunday but we're on our home turf now and we are extremely confident to come away with a win". Under a change in playoff format MLS is considering, all playoff matchups would be one-game knockouts starting in 2019. After a challenge from Nagbe flicked the ball into the path of Martinez, the Venezuelan sprinted behind New York's backline and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Luis Robles.

If the Timbers win or manage a draw with any number of goals, they would head to MLS Cup. "I thought we did that tonight".

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"We have to go there and try to get a win", Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. Until Parker's goal, the only goal Atlanta had allowed in the playoffs was on a free kick that deflected off an Atlanta player in the wall and went right to NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot to put away. But the goal was disallowed on a video review.

"In the final matches of the regular season the team labored and gave up too many goals, and it wasn't the way we were going to have success in the playoffs", Atlanta United coach Tata Martino said "So we were going to have to opt for a style of play that we had played during the season, which was the line of five, and it was the system that has given us the most security defensively".

The Red Bulls can at least look forward to returning home to play in front of the fans at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.

But when referee Kevin Stott took a look at the replay, it clearly showed Alex Muyl lingering offside behind the last Atlanta defender as Wright-Phillips connected with the shot.

"We talked about being organized, talking to each other, communicating, and ultimately being intense, and getting in guys faces and making it hard for our opposition, whether it was NYC or Red Bulls", Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said.

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