MLS Cup Player Ratings: Atlanta United score high, Timbers low in final

"Tata" Martino ended his Atlanta United reign in style, taking MLS Cup with a well-constructed plan in his last game in charge, Saturday's 2-0 celebration-igniting victory over the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With the Timbers placing security over daring, Martino's men patiently went about cracking the visitors' code. With everyone playing their particular roles to a tee, that eventually happened six minutes before intermission and then again shortly after it, and Diego Valeri & Co. were never able to conjure a reply.

Atlanta United

Brad Guzan (7.5) - It was a good all-around night from the Atlanta backstop, whose best save came to deny Jeremy Ebobisse an equalizer near halftime. Guzan then dutifully kept things tidy in his box, while also picking out teammates with long boots, after intermission.

Franco Escobar (7) - The right back's passing game was off and he was burned once in his corner early, but he kept finding space to get forward and held up fairly well defensively after that mistake. Escobar punctuated a decent night — and a terrific playoff run — by hustling to the end of a flicked restart to stab home an insurance tally.

Jeff Larentowicz (6.5) - The veteran was large and in charge at the back in the first half, with a few set piece clearances among his physical stops and nine positive passes into the attacking half. Both sides of Larentowicz's game did have some shaky moments after the break, though.

Michael Parkhurst (8) - The Atlanta skipper started the game with a few big clearances, and then pushed high to force the turnover that facilitated the opening goal. After finishing second in four MLS Cups, Parkhurst truly earned this ring. 

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (6.5) - While he was a shade off both with and without the ball, Gonzalez Pirez never stopped fighting. The center back had his moments, but also missed an assignment on a couple of Portland's best chances.

Greg Garza (7) - The Five Stripes left back enjoyed an excellent opening period, complete with plays at the back and dangerous crosses into the box at the other end. Garza stayed closer to home during an adequate second half.

Eric Remedi (7.5) - The defensive midfielder spent most of his night effectively limiting Valeri's space, and turned into a rush-busting machine in the second half. In the end, Remedi did precisely what they brought him in to do.

Darlington Nagbe (7) - Pressure valve work? Check. Possession mastery? Check. Nagbe turns up everywhere, and things run smoother when he does.

Julian Gressel (7.5) - In addition to consistently linking Atlanta into good final third positions, Gressel formed a defensive barrier in front of the midfield stripe. In all, he started 10 press counters in the Portland's half. A fitting final show from one of the team's and league's most under-heralded players.

Miguel Almiron (7) - In addition to serving the bending free kick that helped tee up Escobar's capping goal, Almiron served all night long as general menace to the visitors. Portland panicked whenever the Atlanta No. 10 got his wheels turning, and he forced a good save with an overhead kick.

Josef Martinez (7.5) - The Golden Boot winner was unable to find the game for 38 minutes, and then it found him. Martinez displayed his standard cool in rounding the 'keeper to deposit the capitalistic winner and his aerial prowess by flicking on for Atlanta's second.

Coach "Tata" Martino (9) - In his last duty as boss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Martino shrewdly steered his charges to the title. He threw a midfield net over Valeri and trusted his boys to get the needed goals.

Subs:
Hector Villalba (6) - Provided the requisite late speed outlet.

Ezequiel Barco (-) - The cameo kid's biggest contribution was allowing Almiron a walk-off ovation, with just one official minute on the field.

Chris McCann (-) - The stoppage time sub drew a card to get his name in the boxscore.

Portland Timbers

Jeff Attinella (6) - I mean, what could he really have done on either goal? Attinella helped his team with a couple of saves and didn't with his long distribution attempts.

Zarek Valentin (6.5) - The Timbers right back did spring a couple of minor first half leaks in defense, but also made plenty of stops throughout the night. In the second half, Valentin provided loads of possession support as Portland tried to play catch-up.

Larrys Mabiala (6.5) - Returning from injury to start the final, Mabiala was not culpable on either goal. He cut off a couple of those lead balls Martinez feeds off of and, well, perhaps got away with a foul in the area.

Liam Ridgewell (2) - For about 89 minutes and 45 seconds out of this match, Ridgewell defended solidly. In those other 15 seconds, it all went wrong twice. He lost the battle as Martinez scored the opener and lost the same man as mark on a fatal free kick play. This was a title match, so mistakes (and the major red marks that come with them) are magnified.

Jorge Villafaña (4.5) - After one dangerous early attack raid, Villafana was limited. He piled up a decent amount of defensive stops, but his one error (giving up the back post to Escobar) had more effect on the game.

David Guzman (5) - During the opening half hour or so, Guzman was unable to get involved in possession and too easy to pass through the middle. He improved in both respects from there, but not so much as to help turn the tide.

Diego Chara (7.5) - The abrasive midfielder was the one Portland player able to sustain his efforts for the full 90 minutes. Chara acted as both the Timbers' muscle and their metronome.

Andy Polo (3) - The Peru international was pretty sloppy with his touch, decisions and positioning (you're a winger, spread the defense!). Polo offered nothing to the underdogs' attack.

Diego Valeri (4.5) - While he keyed a few solid advances, the easy giveaways really piled up for Valeri over the night. The Timbers talisman's playoff luck ran out, much like his operating space and settling touch. 

Sebastian Blanco (6.5) - All of Portland's best moves went through Blanco (and in varying ways), but he also dribbled into too many obvious traps. 

Jeremy Ebobisse (4) - Things ran hot and cold for the young Timbers forward. Ebobisse was always available to hold up play, but his passing in important attack positions left a lot to be desired and he also should have recognized Martinez running free for a flicked assist on Atlanta's second.

Coach Giovanni Savarese (5) - It wasn't perfect, but things were going pretty well for the visitors until a peculiar incident saw them fall behind close to halftime. From there, Savarese was in reactive mode, offering adjustments that were too little and too late. 

Subs:
Lucas Melano (6.5) - The strike sub got active right away and helped his trailing side take some threatening stances.

Dairon Asprilla (5) - There were no playoff heroics from the winger this time. He played in Valeri shortly after entering midway through the second half, but did nothing else of note.

Alvas Powell (2) - The Jamaican right back added some needed push up the flank, and then committed a major flub when lobbed in alone with Valeri. Powell could have either tapped a square pass to his teammate or finished himself, but instead stumbled a weak shot wide. 

Series: 

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