PORTLAND, Ore. — The 2018 MLS Cup will be played between the Western Conference champion Portland Timbers and Eastern Conference champion Atlanta United FC on Saturday, Dec. 8.
This is the second time in four years that the Timbers have played in MLS Cup. Atlanta, meanwhile, is in just its second season of existence after joining Major League Soccer as an expansion team in 2017.
The team that finishes the regular season with the better record gets to host the MLS championship game.
TIME, TV INFO: 5 p.m. PT, FOX. Streaming online on FOX Sports GO. Available in Spanish on UniMás. Available in Canada on TSN (French broadcast on TVA Sports).
LOCATION:Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
WHAT TO WATCH
Previous two MVPs
On Wednesday, Atlanta's Josef Martinez was named Major League Soccer's MVP for the 2018 season. Atlanta's opponent Saturday features the 2017 MLS MVP, Diego Valeri. This is only the second time ever that the previous two league MVPs played in the same MLS Cup. The previous time was in 2002, when that season's MVP — Carlos Ruiz of the Los Angeles Galaxy — faced the 2001 MVP — Alex Pineda Chacon of the now-defunct Miami Fusion. Chacon played for the New England Revolution, who were defeated in MLS Cup on Ruiz's extra-time golden goal.
Martinez earned his MVP award by shattering Major League Soccer's single-season goal-scoring record. Martinez set an MLS single-season scoring record with 31 goals in 2018, breaking the previous record of 27 held by three other players (Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls, 2014; Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes, 2012; Roy Lassiter, Tampa Bay Mutiny, 1996). With three goals in the playoffs, Martinez set another record for most combined regular-season and postseason goals, topping Lassiter's 33 in 1996.
MLS Cup record attendance
The atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be unlike anything seen before in MLS Cup history. This year's MLS Cup should shatter the previous attendance record for the league's championship game. In 2002, 61,316 fans watched the Galaxy defeat the Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. For the second consecutive season, Atlanta United set MLS attendance records. It averaged a record 53,002 fans a game this season, surpassing the mark for its inaugural season, when United averaged 48,200 per game (Atlanta officials said this season's average attendance was the 17th highest in the world).
7-year-old to sing national anthem
Tune in to the game broadcast early, because 7-year-old Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja will be singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." You might be unfamiliar with her work, but sports stars such as LeBron James and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sure are. Her performance of the national anthem before a Los Angeles Galaxy game in September went viral.
PREVIOUS MLS CUP FINALS:
1996: D.C. United over Los Angeles Galaxy (Foxboro Stadium), 3-2 (extra time)
1997: D.C. United over Colorado Rapids (RFK Stadium), 2-1
1998: Chicago Fire over D.C. United (Rose Bowl), 2-0
1999: D.C. United over Los Angeles Galaxy (Foxboro Stadium), 2-0
2000: Kansas City Wizards over Chicago Fire (RFK Stadium), 1-0
2001: San Jose Earthquakes over Los Angeles Galaxy (Crew Stadium), 2-1 (extra time)
2002: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (Gillette Stadium), 1-0 (extra time)
2003: San Jose Earthquakes over Chicago Fire (Home Depot Center), 4-2
2004: D.C. United over Kansas City Wizards (Home Depot Center), 3-2
2005: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (Pizza Hut Park), 1-0 (extra time)
2006: Houston Dynamo over New England Revolution (Pizza Hut Park), 1-1 (Dynamo won penalty shootout, 4-3)
2007: Houston Dynamo over New England Revolution (RFK Stadium), 2-1
2008: Columbus Crew over New York Red Bulls (Home Depot Center), 3-1
2009: Real Salt Lake over Los Angeles Galaxy (Qwest Field), 1-1 (RSL won penalty shootout, 5-4)
2010: Colorado Rapids over FC Dallas (BMO Field), 2-1 (extra time)
2011: Los Angeles Galaxy over Houston Dynamo (Home Depot Center), 1-0
2012: Los Angeles Galaxy over Houston Dynamo (Home Depot Center), 3-1
2013: Sporting Kansas City over Real Salt Lake (Sporting Park), 1-1 (SKC won penalty shootout, 7-6)
2014: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (StubHub Center), 2-1 (extra time)
2015: Portland Timbers over Columbus Crew (Mapfre Stadium), 2-1
2016: Seattle Sounders FC over Toronto FC (BMO Field), 0-0 (Sounders won penalty shootout, 5-4)
2017: Toronto FC over Seattle Sounders FC (BMO Field), 2-0