ATLANTA – Atlanta United brought the house down on Saturday night by winning their first MLS Cup, but the Portland Timbers had a few questions about how the Five Stripes' second goal in the 2-0 win came about.
With Atlanta leading 1-0 in the 53rd minute and the Timbers on the front foot to start the second half, Portland defender Larrys Mabiala found himself in his own half, chasing down eventual MLS Cup MVP Josef Martinez. Mabiala got his boot to the ball cleanly and cleared it, but clattered into Martinez in the process, and referee Alan Kelly whistled for a foul. Atlanta would go on to score from the resulting free kick, all but putting the game out of reach for the visitors.
Though Kelly seemed to indicate that he was whistling Mabiala for a high boot, Savarese in his post-match press conference maintained that it was not a foul, and was backed up by his captain, Diego Valeri.
“We were a little more courageous in the second half to bring the game closer to their goal. We were a little unfortunate,” he told reporters. “I thought the momentum was killed by the referee for the foul that wasn’t a foul because I thought in the second half we were doing very well. It was pretty even and we had more momentum going forward. The second goal was tough for us to digest.”
Savarese would further elaborate on the call in his comments in the Timbers' locker room:
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