New York City FC made team history on Saturday after defeating the Portland Timbers 1-1 (4-2) on penalties to lift their first-ever Major League Soccer Cup trophy. Sean Johnson was the hero of the night, saving two crucial shots to earn the coveted title.
After qualifying for the playoffs on five consecutive occasions, NYCFC has finally made it all the way.
The heavy Portland rain set the stage for the dramatic league final as the Timbers hosted New York City FC at Providence Park. Both teams kicked off with an aggressive edge, forcing 17 fouls in the first half alone.
The sides were level until the Timbers committed a silly foul in the 40th minute that forced a free-kick in a dangerous spot. Maximiliano Moralez stepped up to the spot and curled the cross perfectly to find Valentin Castellanos. The 2021 Golden Boot winner worked his magic to head the ball past Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark and into the net for the spectacular 1-0 lead.
The visiting NYCFC supporters erupted into chaos as “MVP” chants for Taty echoed throughout Providence Park.
The home side returned to the pitch after halftime with newfound energy. Portland took control of the game as it came to an end, constantly pushing forward on the attack to reach Sean Johnson. It was their final burst of energy that saved the Timbers. After a messy display of shots inside the box, Felipe Mora found the rebound and directed the ball into the lower right corner to send the game to overtime.
The extra minutes saw several offensive leads by both sides, but ultimately the game was destined for penalties.
NYCFC stepped up to the spot first with Castellanos scoring for the Celestes. Mora, Alfredo Morales, and Diego Valeri all missed their attempts. Everyone else scored their penalties, but the Timbers could not make up for their initial mistakes.
Alex Callens stepped up to score the final penalty and send his team into a frenzy. Supporters erupted into chants, joining with others to celebrate the immense achievement.
Here are your full MLS Cup player ratings:
Sean Johnson (GK) – 8/10 – Led well until he got caught up in the chaos of the equalizer.
Tayvon Gray (RB) – 5/10 – Helped the team as a whole, but didn’t do anything particularly special himself
Maxime Chanot (CB) – 4/10 – Neither helped nor hindered.
Alex Callens (CB) – 6/10 – Stable figure on the defense, but ultimately got caught up during the equalizer.
Gudmundur Thórarinsson (LB) – 4/10 – Neither helped nor hindered. Replaced near the end of the second half.
Jesús Medina (RW) – 7/10 – Provided the necessary help.
Alfredo Morales (CM) – 2/10 – Missed his penalty.
Maximiliano Moralez (CAM) – 8/10 – Provided Castellanos the necessary assist on the first goal, and scored his penalty.
James Sands (CM) – 6/10 – Stepped up as a stable figure for his team during the important moments.
Santiago Rodriquez (LW) – 4/10 – Could have been more present for NYCFC, disappeared in the midfield.
Valentín Castellanos (F) – 8/10 – Scored the opening goal, and went on to score his penalty.
Malte Amundsen – 4/10 – Did fine.
Talles Magno – 8/10 – Came in, scored his penalty.
Steve Clark (GK) – 3/10 – Could have saved the header by Castellanos, got his hands on it before letting it slip into the lower-left corner.
Josecarlos Van Rankin (RB) – 3/10 – Blended in with the background.
Larrys Mabiala (CB) – 5/10 – It wasn’t the Mabiala that fans saw throughout the postseason, he’s had much better matches.
Dario Zuparic (CB) – 4/10 – Provided the stability needed, but should have been sharper on the ball.
Claudio Bravo (LB) – 2/10 – Not his best performance when it definitely should have been.
Dairon Asprilla (RW) – 5/10 – Nothing special on the ball.
Diego Chara (CM) – 7/10 – He was fast on the ball and made a last-minute save to stop NYCFC from doubling the score.
George Fochive (CM) – 2/10 – Caused too many unnecessary fouls, he’s lucky the referee didn’t hand over two yellows and a subsequent expulsion.
Yimmi Chara (CAM) – 7/10 – He took the offensive lead given Mora’s inability to attack, unfortunate not to get the goal.
Sebastian Blanco (LW) – 5/10 – Didn’t help but didn’t hinder, should have been better given the game.
Felipe Mora (F) – 7/10 – Woke up in the last 15 minutes of the game to score the equalizer and save the Timbers, but missed his penalty.
Sebastian Moreno – 3/10 – Entered as a pair of fresh legs and acted like the players who had been on the pitch for 75+ minutes.
Cristhian Paredes – 4/10 – disappointing performance given what he’s capable of doing.
Diego Valeri – 3/10 – Missed his penalty.
Jarosław Niezgoda – 3/10 – Did not impact.