Atlanta dominates Portland to capture MLS Cup in 2nd season
Ira L. Black - Corbis / Corbis Sport / Getty

Atlanta United is batting a cool .500.

In the perfect send-off for outgoing manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino, the Five Stripes captured the MLS Cup in just their second season of existence, brushing the Portland Timbers aside 2-0 on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The contest also offered a fitting end to the campaign for Josef Martinez. Atlanta's star striker, who was named MLS MVP earlier this week after setting a new single-season league record with 31 goals, scored the opener before providing an assist for Franco Escobar's clincher in the second half.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan was promptly named MLS Cup MVP. He's the fifth player in league history to be named best player in both the regular season and the showpiece match, following Tony Meola (2000), Carlos Ruiz (2002), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (2008), and Robbie Keane (2014).

Right from the opening whistle, it felt like Atlanta was ready to seize its moment.

The home side dictated play in a match that, at least in the early stages, was high on intensity but lacked noteworthy action inside the penalty area.

As Miguel Almiron became more involved, though, that began to change.

The 24-year-old Paraguayan, heavily linked in recent days with a move to the Premier League, nearly opened the scoring in the 29th minute when he sprung off the turf and connected on an incoming cross with an unorthodox volley. The acrobatic effort kicked up off the pitch and looked destined for the top corner, but Portland 'keeper Jeff Attinella reacted quickly to make the save.

It turned out to only be a brief respite.

After being largely untroubled - aside from the Almiron attempt - and doing an excellent job at closing down space in midfield and keeping things compact in defense, Portland shot itself in the foot.

A sloppy turnover just ten minutes later, instigated by a well-timed tackle from Atlanta captain Michael Parkhurst, saw the ball ricochet into the path of Martinez.

There was only going to be one outcome.

The diminutive forward easily rounded Attinella before sliding the ball into a gaping goal.

The Timbers, who were looking to hoist their second MLS Cup in the last four seasons, threatened sporadically, but the talent gap that saw Martino's side run roughshod over the league for much of the year was on full display as the encounter wore on. When the visitors did craft openings, Brad Guzan snuffed them out. Those chances were few and far between, though, as typically dynamic Portland duo Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco were nullified almost entirely, making for one-way traffic for large portions of the match.

Portland looked sharp to open the second stanza, but a set piece killed any potential comeback bid, as Escobar snuck in at the back post to double the advantage in the 54th minute.

For the MLS Cup record 73,019 fans inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium - outside of the small fraction of Portland supporters - the party was on.

Atlanta is expected to look significantly different next season, as both Almiron and Martinez could earn high-profile transfers on the back of their fantastic seasons.

If indeed this was their last match with the newly-crowned MLS kingpin, helping to end the city's lengthy title drought certainly qualifies as a storybook ending; Atlanta's last championship in a major men's league came courtesy of the Braves in 1995.

The city's wait for a trophy is over. The club's wait never really started.

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Atlanta dominates Portland to capture MLS Cup in 2nd season
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