Road-tested Portland Timbers face one final away challenge in 2018 MLS Cup

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Portland Timbers have already earned three impressive away results in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Now comes the toughest task of all.

The newly-crowned Western Conference champions will be substantial underdogs when they visit Atlanta United in the 2018 MLS Cup on Saturday, Dec. 8 (8 pm ET | FOX, UniMas, TSN, TVAS) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

But given their path to get here, the Timbers believe they can overcome the Five Stripes and their imposing home fortress.

“We need rest now," said Portland attacker Sebastian Blanco. "We feel so happy, but we need to work. Because Atlanta, I think for this year, is the best team in MLS. [They] show the best in every game. At home, it’s so difficult but we have potential. So we need to rest and then go to work.”

With MLS record-breaking single-season scorer Josef Martinez leading the attack and midfielder Miguel Almiron pulling the strings for Atlanta, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese faces a formidable challenge. But after a successful tenure at the helm of lower-division side New York Cosmos, he'll be making his fifth appearance as a coach in a championship final.

He commands a roster with several holdovers from the side that went to Columbus and captured 2015 MLS Cup in a road environment. Diego Valeri, who leads the 2018 MLS postseason with four goals, scored the opener in that game, and current Timbers Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana, Diego Chara and Alvas Powell also started in that match.

There's also the experience from this season, with the Timbers defeating FC Dallas on the road in the Knockout Round before earning the necessary results in Seattle and Kansas City.

“We’ve gone on the road and done what we needed to do in each series," said goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. "We know it’s going to be tough in Atlanta, they have a lot of really good players. But at the end of the day, we've just got to go in there and keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully get the result we want."

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