The 2018 MLS Cup is set. Atlanta won the Eastern Conference final 3-1 on aggregate, losing 1-0 on the night to the New York Red Bulls. In the Western Conference, the Portland Timbers came back to take the series 3-2 on the night and by the same score on aggregate. Atlanta will host the 2018 MLS Cup on December 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8pm ET - Fox).
In the East, the Red Bulls trailed 3-0 going into the second-leg. Tim Parker scored for New York four minutes into stoppage time, with Atlanta taking the series 3-1. Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made four saves to keep the clean sheet.
"We set a record for most points in a season, set a record for most points at home, there were a lot of records and at least we were able to get the Supporters’ Shield which is a piece of silverware," Robles said. "There’s a lot of teams in this league that didn’t win any silverware. It’s crazy how because of the ambition of the team you end up minimizing something like that, but that’s a big thing to be able to look at your season and at least point to some sort of silverware I think is huge… and yet the big one eludes us."
With the opening leg ending scoreless, Sporting Kansas City had home field advantage along with the threat of giving up an away goal. Both played a part in what turned into a 3-2 Timbers win to advance as Western Conference champions. Daniel Salloi put Sporting up in the 20th minute with Sebastian Blanco equalizing from distance in the 52nd. That put the pressure on Sporting, with Portland holding the way goals tiebreaker. Diego Valeri scored in the 61st minute to make it 2-1 Portland with Gerso Fernandes equalizing in the 81st. Due to the referee removing both teams from the field after a fan threw a can, there was lengthy stoppage time. Portland took advantage with Valeri scoring again nine minutes into stoppage time.
"I'm very proud of the performance from the guys and what they achieved," Portland coach Gio Savarese. "It's all on them. It's a credit to a group that worked hard, a group that believed all along that we can achieve something great, and now this achievement has put us where we want to be in the final."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Doug Roberson after United won in New Jersey. Yahoo Sports' Leander Schaerlaeckens on the disappointing ending to the Red Bulls' season. The Oregonian's Jamie Goldberg with the Timbers' unlikely away win. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle with Sporting KC's near miss at advancing. The Athletic's Jeff Rueter also looks at what happened to Sporting KC at home in the second-leg.
Joe Corona subbed on in the 66th minute for Club America's 2-2 draw at Toluca in the first-leg of their Liga MX quarterfinal playoff series. America took the lead through Emanuel Aguilera in the 7th minute with Toluca equalizing in the 24th. Bruno Valdez returned America's lead two minutes later. Toluca equalized six minutes into stoppage time. The series concludes at Estadio Azteca on Sunday at 7:30pm ET.
Moving to the Europa League, Romain Gall subbed on in the 81st minute for Malmo's 2-2 home draw with Genk. Malmo needed a comeback after giving up goals in the 42nd and 53rd minutes. Oscar Lewicki cut the lead in half in the 65th with Marcus Antonsson equalizing in the 67th. With one matchday left in Group I, Mamo is in 3rd-place a point behind 2nd-place Besiktas and two back of 1st-place Genk. They play at Besiktas on December 12. Kenny Saief's Anderlecht drew 0-0 at home with Spartak Trnava in Group D. Both teams finished with two shots on goal. Anderlecht is in 4th-place in Group D and can finish no higher than 3rd-place. They play at Dinamo Zagreb to close out their Europa League schedule.
Reuters reports on FIFA planning on limiting the loan system in club soccer starting in 2020-21. The NY Times' Rory Smith looks at CONMEBOL's plan to play the postponed second-leg of the Copa Libertadores final in Madrid.
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