The 2021 MLS Cup clash between the Portland Timbers and New York City FC was primed to be a must-see matchup before the clock started ticking. Per Vivid Seats, it was the most in-demand MLS game ever as the average ticket price was $752.
In the end, after some high drama, NYCFC defeated their west coast host on penalties to win it all. Here’s how the game played out.
Players and fans alike were prepared for a high-energy environment and prior to kick-off, NYCFC coach Ronny Delia even acknowledged the tone.
“I’ve heard it is a very good atmosphere, but there is nothing more fun than playing in a stadium with a good atmosphere,” Delia said. “We have to deal with the noise to be playing away… this is maybe a step up when you’re talking about noise, but I think we have players who have through these things many times.”
After a windy opening ceremony in which a giant inflatable version of MLS Cup was essentially ripped in half by the strong gusts ripping across Providence Park, the game got going.
Timbers fans again protested in the 24th minute of the MLS Cup, which they’ve been doing since October amid revelations that the Timbers front office quietly handled allegations of sexual harassment from the former coach of the club’s women’s team, the Portland Thorns. Two players reported coach Paul Riley’s behavior in 2015, but he was not ousted from the NWSL until October.
After a tense first half with few chances created, NYCFC struck first.
However, one fan in particular became too rowdy after Taty Castellanos’s 41st-minute goal when NYCFC midfielder Jesús Medina was struck by an object that was thrown from the crowd. According to the Timbers’ Twitter page, the fan was quickly ejected from Providence Park, but that did not deter other fans from sharing their thoughts about the incident.
It was a shame that the ugly scenes took some shine away from Castellanos’ goal; having finished the season as the Golden Boot winner given to the league’s top scorer, this was his moment on the biggest MLS stage.
The NYCFC viewing party, held at New York City’s iconic Hammerstein Ballroom, definitely enjoyed the goal.
And then, after NYCFC appeared destined for a historic first-ever MLS Cup, this happened…
Castellano’s goal was the game’s only score for most of the contest, but Portland managed to get on the board with 93:54 on the clock. According to ESPN Stats and Information, it was the latest regulation (non-extra time) goal in MLS Cup history.
Felipe Mora’s score came just seconds before the final whistle to keep the Timbers’ hopes alive – it also sparked an outpour of posts on social media.
The Timbers’ social media platform needed a moment after that!
The dramatic late goal certainly caught the attention, and things rolled into extra time with the score tied at 1-1.
Despite Portland’s late regulation goal, they were unable to defeat their visitors from the east coast. NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson emphatically denied the Timbers’ first two penalty kicks and it was too much for the home team to overcome as NYCFC handedly won the shootout, 4-2.
The NYCFC faithful traveled over 3,000 miles to witness their team take on Portland and were able to view a euphoric victory as the new MLS Cup champions were crowned and the celebration spilled over to the social world.
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