SHOWS: ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 7, 2018)(MLS - BROADCASTER AND DIGITAL: MUST COURTESY 'MLS') 1.
INTERIOR MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM - ATLANTA UNITED PLAYERS RUNNING DRILL 2.
UNITED PLAYERS SCRIMMAGE 3.
ATLANTA UNITED GOALKEEPER BRAD GUZAN SPEAKING TO REPORTERS 4.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) ATLANTA UNITED GOALKEEPER SAYING: "Yeah regardless of age, you know sometimes as a young player you think that this is almost the normal, that you get to play in these (MLS Cup) every year and it's automatic and that's certainly not the case so we try to emphasize that a little bit, in the sense that you never know when you'll have an opportunity like this again and you've got to seize the moment." 5.
ATLANTA UNITED PLAYERS FINISHING DRILL 6.
PORTLAND TIMBERS PLAYERS TRAINING SESSION 7.
TIMBERS MIDFIELDER DIEGO VALERI SPEAKING TO REPORTERS 8.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) PORTLAND TIMBERS MIDFIELDER DIEGO VALERI SAYING: "No, we are fine with it (being the underdog)...it's normal right because Atlanta is a good environment right, it's a good stadium and they have a good team but we have the confidence that we are the best team in the west, and that give us calm and confidence that we're ready." 9.
TIMBERS DEFENDER ZAREK VALENTIN SPEAKING TO REPORTERS 10.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) PORTLAND TIMBERS DEFENDER ZAREK VALENTIN SAYING: "Yeah I think it's interesting because a lot of teams provide different challenges, obviously in terms of style of play and things like that but I think (Josef) Martinez (United striker) record speaks for itself in terms of his goal scoring prowess and kudos to him, he doesn't need many chances, most games he gets one or two and usually puts one in the net so that's difficult, and obviously with (Miguel) Almiron (United midfielder) and Darlington (Nagbe - United midfielder) and a few of these guys, and (Julian) Gressel (United midfielder) serving the ball, they're difficult and they can hit you from a lot of different angles and a lot of different ways, whether serving it, counter attacking, whether they have possession, and they have 67 percent possession, so they're a difficult team that's well-rounded so I think we have to be ready for all facets but, again, if we can control our game and defend in the way that we want to I think we'll make it difficult." 11.
TIMBERS PLAYERS TRAINING STORY: Heavily favored Atlanta United and the underdog Portland Timbers took to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium pitch Friday (December 7) to prepare for this weekend's 2018 MLS Cup final, where upwards of 70,000 partisan fans are expected.
Portland will have their hands full with Atlanta's powerful attack, led by striker Josef Martinez, the league MVP who set an MLS record with 31 goals this season, and a midfield consisting of Darlington Nagbe, Miguel Almiron, and German rookie of the year Julian Gressel.
United, cheered on by it's rabid fanbase, finished the MLS regular season in second place in the east with 69 points and then defeated the first place New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship to advance to Saturday's (December 8) MLS Cup.
The Timbers, who managed to finish the regular season just fifth in the west, have done their damage on the road this postseason, pulling out away victories in Dallas in the knockout round and in Kansas City in the Western Conference Championship.
They also won a penalty shootout to decide their conference semifinal series in Seattle after playing to a 4-4 aggregate draw over two games.