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MLS is Back Final: Orlando City v Portland Timbers

MLS is Back Tournament Final: How and when to watch the Orlando City SC vs Portland Timbers

August 11, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
The Portland Timbers and hosts Orlando City will take the pitch at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Aug. 11, at 8:30 p.m. ET for a chance to earn a CONCACAF Champions League spot and lift the MLS is Back Tournament cup.

Two teams that have not tasted defeat after six MLS is Back Tournament games hope to keep their streak alive to win it all. The Portland Timbers led by head coach Giovanni Savarese showcased dominant performances across all matches. On the other hand, Orlando City is finally showing signs of MLS Cup playoff-caliber after the arrival of new manager Oscar Pareja, who has transformed the Lions into a force to reckoned with.

The winner will secure a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, take $300,000 home and be the first franchise to claim the unique MLS is Back Tournament trophy.

Orlando City SC vs Portland Timbers: Match Preview

Surprisingly enough, it is Orlando City who edge-out the Timbers in their all-time record 3W-1L-1D with a 10-7 goal leverage. The inter-conference opponents have met once in each season since the Lions joined the league in 2015.

Assistant referee Kathryn Nesbitt will become the first woman to work a Major League Soccer final. The American has worked 64 games during her seven-year career including some at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Veteran assistant referee Corey Rockwell celebrated this announcement on twitter ahead of the final.

Orlando City SC

Orlando came into the tournament with little hope to reach the final. Given the Lions poor previous five seasons, fans were hoping that the home team would at least make it out of Group A made up of Inter Miami, New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union. A win in the tournament's opening game against new Florida rivals Inter Miami gave Pareja's side the morale boost needed to succeed in the tournament. After, Orlando dominated NYCFC in a 3-1 win to later close-out group play in first place by goal differential after a 1-1 stalemate with the Union.

Orlando's convincing group stage form was questioned after a fortunate 1-0 win over Thierry Henry's Montreal Impact in the round of 16. However, Orlando showed character and a sense of resiliency in their quarterfinal fixture against LAFC, scoring an equalizer in the 90th minute to take the game into a penalty shootout where Orlando came out as the victor. Then came the semifinal victory against a high-rated Minnesota United thanks to a pair of world-class goals converted by forward Luis Nani.

Pareja, who celebrated his birthday alongside his players and staff in the bubble on Monday, has been the key figure for the hosts in this tournament. He's had time to understand and immerse himself in the Orlando City culture since his arrival after the 2019 season. Moreover, he has gotten to know his players on a personal level and learned what their strengths and weaknesses are. The players have admitted that Pareja has had a lot to do with the turnaround since the start of the season, which has seen the Lions accumulate a 5W-1L-2D record. The Colombian manager will look to extend his birthday celebrations with a win on Tuesday that will bring euphoria to the city of Orlando. A victory would see the Lions claim their first-ever MLS title.

In terms of players to watch, Nani stepped up during the knockout phases involving himself in Orlando's three (two goals, one assist) out of five goals. His tournament tally sits at three goals and three assists when adding his group stage goal contributions. However, it was right-winger Chris Mueller who was banging in the goals for Orlando early in the tournament, scoring three times in the three group stage matches. Other players like left-back Joao Moutinho and striker Tesho Akindele have had key instances where they have dug-out Orlando from hopeless situations during playoff stages. And last but not least, look out for Brazilian right-back Ruan who offers high offensive and defensive work rates resulting in a lot of ground being covered per game. 

Injuries: Dom Dwyer (OUT, knee)

Portland Timbers

Savarese's Portland Timbers arrived at Orlando ranking amongst the teams with the higher chances of winning the MLS is Back Tournament, but by no means did anyone think that they would actually reach the final with teams like the Columbus Crew, LAFC, Philadelphia Union and SKC in the mix. Nonetheless, the Timbers proved to be one of the best two teams in the competition and are hungry for a win against Orlando to officially be declared the best.

In detail, the Timbers topped Group F, which was made up of the Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC accumulating seven points in the process. Then, Portland was matched-up with defensive-minded FC Cincinnati led by Jaap Stam in the round of 16. Cincinnati frustrated the Timbers forcing the game to go to penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular time, but Portland was the side to come out on top. The Timbers went on to play New York City FC in the quarterfinal, winning the game 3-1 after a strong second-half showing. And Savarese's men defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in the semis to reach the tournament final.

Eight of Portland's 12 goals in the tournament came in the second half and four of those goals were scored by substitutes. Savarese deploys a defensive and physical starting lineup to then make the best out of his five substitutions in the second half. With forward players like Diego Valeri, Andy Polo, Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Jeremy Ebobisse in rotation, Savarese has had the luxury of having not only fresh legs in the second half but also quality to close-out games. Forward Sebastian Blanco is the top tournament MVP candidate with eight goal contributions (three goals and five assists), while Ebobisse leads the team in goals with four. 

Savarese is a manager who is no stranger to finals. In his eight-year pro managerial career, the Venezuelan reached six finals and won four of them. He will be looking for his first Major League Soccer title given that his four trophies came during his time managing the New York Cosmos in the NASL.

Injuries: Dairon Asprilla (OUT, left knee), Yimmi Chara (Questionable, right thigh), Andres Flores (Unavailable)

Orlando City SC vs Portland Timbers: Broadcast Information

 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

Portland Timbers 2 - 1 Orlando City SC

August 11, 2020 8:00pmESPN Wild World Sports Complex

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

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