After a 34-game regular season and three rounds of Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs action, it all comes down to one last game as the Portland Timbers host New York City FC in Saturday's MLS Cup Final at Providence Park (3 pm ET | ABC, UniMas, TUDN).
Here's everything you need to know about the match, as well as info on how to catch all the action.
What is MLS Cup?
MLS teams compete for multiple trophies throughout the year, but MLS Cup is the one that determines the league's champion after representatives from both the Eastern and Western Conference face off in one final deciding match.
The format has changed throughout the years, but one thing has remained constant: Only one team will be left standing once the dust settles, and will cement their place in history, while everyone else will have to start over next year.
How can I watch?
- USA: ABC (English)
- USA: UniMás and TUDN (Spanish)
- Canada: TSN
- Canada: TVA Sports (French)
The game will also be broadcast in nearly 200 countries around the world on:
ESPN LATIN AMERICA, DAZN (EUROPE), DAZN (BRAZIL), C-MORE, CSM, SPORTCAST, BEIN SPORTS, EUROSPORT, STAR SPORTS, FOOTBALL 1, ABU DHABI SPORTS, NOVA SPORTS (GREECE), OKKO SPORT, ELEVEN SPORTS, ESPN AFRICA, ARENA SPORT, MAX SPORT, CYTAVISION, NOVA SPORT (CZECH REPUBLIC), CHARLTON, POLSAT, PREMIER SPORTS, SPORTTV, ESPN NETHERLANDS, SARAN SPORT, SILK SPORT, NETWORK 4, SPORTDIGITAL, SKY SPORTS, TV2, VG+
What is the matchup and how'd they get here?
This year's MLS Cup will be a special occasion, as Portland are hosting at their home stadium of Providence Park for the first time in their MLS history.
It wasn't always smooth sailing for the Timbers to reach this point. Head coach Giovanni Savarese's group endured some erratic form at times in 2021, dealing with a plethora of key absences, most notably to star midfielder Sebastian Blanco, one of the best players in MLS. But they righted the ship down the stretch and into the playoffs, entering the championship match amid six straight wins and with hosting rights to boot.
NYCFC charted a somewhat similar path, experiencing their own lulls in form during the regular season, taking the East's No. 4 spot with a solid but unspectacular 1.5 points per game. But they found their stride at the right time, marching through the East bracket in a run that peaked with a massive road upset over the favored Supporters' Shield-winning New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Either side of that, NYCFC brushed past Atlanta United in Round One before a dramatic win over a depleted Philadelphia Union in the Conference Final.
What is the format?
MLS Cup is a single-elimination, winner-take-all format, the same as the rest of the playoffs.
If the match finishes in a draw, two 15-minute extra-time periods will be played to decide a winner. If no one finishes on top after extra time, the champion will be decided by a penalty-kick shootout.
The Timbers are collaborating with MLS WORKS, the league's social responsibility platform, to give back to Portland with a community service project centered on literacy.
Portland and MLS will donate 10,000 books through the Children’s Book Bank (CBB) of Portland that reflect the cultural needs of the children and families that they serve. MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson will participate in the event, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 10 at 2:30 pm PT.