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New York City stun Portland in penalties to win MLS Cup

In the final seconds of regular time, a deflected shot landed in front of Portland's Felipe Mora, who fired it home to send the game into extra time.

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(Reuters) -New York City FC overcame a hostile road environment and a late Portland equalizer to upset the Timbers in a penalty shootout and claim the franchise's first MLS Cup on Saturday.

New York looked like they would ride Taty Castellanos' 41st-minute goal to a 1-0 victory. But in the final seconds of regular time, a deflected shot landed in front of Portland's Felipe Mora, who fired it home to send the game into extra time.

From there, both teams had opportunities they were unable to finish, setting up the shootout on a rainy day at sold-out Providence Park.

In the shootout, New York's veteran goalie Sean Johnson stood tall, saving two of the four Portland shots before Alexander Callens claimed the championship for New York with an emphatic shot that found the top right corner of the goal.

"I told the boys, don't put your heads down. There's a lot of game yet to be played," Johnson said when asked his message to the team after Portland tied it up.

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The team captain said he told players to embrace the opportunity of the shootout and not look at it as a pressure situation.

"I just wanted to stay present and do what I could to help the team, and we stepped up in a big way. I was able to get a couple of saves and the boys buried the rest."

Johnson said the hard work he had put in over the years had finally paid off.

"This is why we play the games, make all the sacrifice. It's for the fans up there who traveled all the way across the country," he said.

"Twelve years in the making for me, so we're going to enjoy it."

Members of the New York City FC celebrate with the MLS Cup Saturday after defeating the Portland Timbers in the 2021 MLS Cup championship game at Providence Park, Portland, Oregon. John David Mercer / USA Today Sports

Golden boot winner Castellanos broke the scoreless tie toward the end of the first half when he headed a dead ball kick from Alfredo Morales off the glove of Portland keeper Steve Clark and into the goal.

In the ensuing celebration, a fan threw an aluminum can onto the field, hitting New York's Jesus Medina and causing him to fall to the field. Medina was able to continue in the match and the fan was ejected.

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Portland's first chance for an equalizer came late in the match when Yimmi Chara's dead ball kick got past New York's flatfooted defense.

But Mora was unable to alter the shot's trajectory with his outstretched foot and the ball sailed into Johnson's arms.

Mora made up for that miscue when he scored the unlikely equalizer to bring Portland's famed Timbers Army fanbase back to life.

New York players were livid with the referees, insisting a foul should have been called on the Timbers during a collision that occurred in the box prior to Mora's goal.

The 26th edition of the MLS Cup marked the fifth time it had been decided by penalties.

New York were making their first appearance in a Cup final, while the Timbers were making their third, having won it all in 2015.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Related Topics: SOCCER
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