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FC Cincinnati earns first MLS win by clobbering Portland 3-0

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FC Cincinnati sealed its first MLS win in dominant fashion, hammering the Portland Timbers 3-0 behind three different goalscorers.

Kendall Waston opened the scoring just 15 minutes in, heading home a free-kick after he got in front of Claude Dielna to bag the first home MLS goal for the club. They put the game away with a quickfire double just after the hour mark, started by Allan Cruz who took Roland Lamah‘s deflected shot and back-heeled it into the net past a helpless Jeff Attinella who was rooted to the spot.

Mathieu Deplange killed off the game just two minutes later, thanks to Victor Ulloa keeping the ball alive on the left flank. The 27-year-old pilfered a loose ball down the touchline, and while his cross couldn’t find a mark, Darren Mattocks sent it back in and found Deplange for the finish at the doorstep.

Portland then lost a man in the 70th minute as Larrys Mabiala earned his second yellow card for bundling over Kekuta Manneh on the break just at the top of the box. It’s the second straight week Portland has lost a man to a second yellow card, and it left them toothless to produce any type of comeback.

The three points puts Cincinnati on four points after its first three matches in the league, right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference off the jump.

MLS Preview: FC Cincinnati hosts first MLS match

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As we reach week three of the MLS season, exactly half of the league’s teams are still looking for their first win of the year, including FC Cincinnati, which hosts its first-ever MLS match.  Below, we’ll preview the top three upcoming matchups on tap this weekend in MLS:

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers — Sunday, 5 p.m. ET

Major League Soccer fully arrives in Cincinnati this weekend, as FC Cincinnati hosts its first ever MLS game. Like its previous two games, this one will be no easy task for the expansion side, as it hosts MLS Cup finalists, the Portland Timbers. It’s a reunion for Fanendo Adi, who left the Timbers last summer to join FC Cincinnati in a trade between the two clubs, but it’s also a big test for the Timbers. Amazingly, the Timbers are winless in 22 consecutive matches when Diego Chara is out. The Colombian was sent off in last week’s rout at Los Angeles FC, putting his team behind the eight ball early in the season.

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Suddenly, with the acquisition this week of Nicolas Gaitan, on paper at least, the Chicago Fire look like they can be a playoff squad. Veljko Paunovic’s side features Bastian Schweinsteiger dropping deep as a centerback, Dax McCarty patrolling midfield, and then Gaitan, Alexander Katai and Nemanja Nikolic and this team has the spine and talent to make a deep playoff run. They’ll get a chance to test themselves against a team always in the playoff picture, and one that’s benefitted by the return of Jordan Morris. After routing FC Cincinnati and soundly beating the Colorado Rapids how will the Sounders respond to its first road match of the season?

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

This game may have gone under the radar in the past, but both of these teams have four points from two games and are off to a hot start in the 2019 MLS season. It’s a return to D.C. for Mike Petke, who helped D.C. United win MLS Cup in 2004, while it’s also a chance to see Wayne Rooney against one of the best pair in MLS history, Kyle Beckerman in midfield and Nick Rimando in goal. Real Salt Lake’s young, Homegrown-filled squad could surprise D.C. in Audi Field, unless Rooney and Luciano Acosta have something to say about that.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Saturday

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders – 1 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. FC Dallas – 2 p.m.

Houston Dynamo v. Vancouver Whitecaps – 3 p.m.

New York Red Bulls v. San Jose Earthquakes – 3:30 p.m.

Orlando City v. Montreal Impact – 4 p.m.

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake – 8 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Minnesota United – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday

New York City FC v. Los Angeles FC – 3 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers – 5 p.m.

Atlanta United v. Philadelphia Union – 7 p.m.

Toronto FC v. New England Revolution – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Sporting KC – 9 p.m.

It is official: Porter, Bezbatchenko hired by Columbus Crew

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Columbus Crew has named Caleb Porter as head coach and Tim Bezbatchenko as its new president.

[ MORE: Chong debuts for Man Utd ]

The moves come with a new ownership group led by Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam expected to take over and plans in the works for a new downtown stadium. The MLS team was at risk of being moved to Austin, Texas, by its present owners before the local group stepped in.

The 43-year-old Porter was head coach of the Portland Timbers from 2013-17, finishing there with a 68-50-52 record. Previously, he was head soccer coach at the University of Akron from 2006-12.

The 37-year-old Bezbatchenko was Toronto FC’s vice president of soccer operations and general manager from 2013-18.

The Crew opens the season March 2.

More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

MLS releases home openers for all 2019 teams

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On Thursday we learned that Portland is going to be insane on June 1, as the Timbers host their home opener a mere three months into their 2019 MLS season.

[ MORE: Berhalter names first USMNT squad ]

Major League Soccer released the home opener dates for all of its teams, and the Timbers will be away for months thanks to renovations at Providence Park (via MLSSoccer.com).

The Timbers will be the visitors for the first home match in the MLS history of FC Cincinnati on March 17, a week after FCC opens up the home schedule for reigning champions Atlanta United.

Saturday, March 2

  • 1 p.m. ET – Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC (Talen Energy Stadium)
  • 2:30 p.m. ET – Orlando City SC vs. NYCFC (Orlando City Stadium)
  • 4:30 p.m. ET – Columbus Crew SC vs. NY Red Bulls (MAPFRE Stadium)
  • 4:30 p.m. ET – FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution (Toyota Stadium)
  • 6 p.m. ET – Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake (BBVA Compass Stadium)
  • 6 p.m. ET – Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
  • 6 p.m. ET – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Minnesota United (BC Place)
  • 8 p.m. ET – LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire (Dignity Health Sports Park)
  • 10 p.m. ET – Seattle Sounders vs. FC Cincinnati (CenturyLink Field)
  • 10 p.m. ET – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Montreal Impact (Avaya Stadium)

Sunday, March 3

  • 6 p.m. ET – D.C. United vs. Atlanta United (Audi Field)
  • 8 p.m. ET – LAFC vs. Sporting KC (Banc of California Stadium)

Saturday, March 9, 2019:

  • 1 p.m. ET – Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC (SeatGeek Stadium)
  • 2 p.m. ET – New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew SC (Gillette Stadium)
  • 6 p.m. ET – Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Rio Tinto Stadium)

Sunday, March 10, 2019:

  • 3 p.m. ET – NYCFC vs. D.C. United (Yankee Stadium)
  • 3 p.m. ET – Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia Union (Children’s Mercy Park)
  • 5 p.m. ET – Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Saturday, March 16, 2019:

  • TBD – NY Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Red Bull Arena)

Sunday, March 17, 2019:

  • 1:30 p.m. – Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution (BMO Field)
  • 5 p.m. – FC Cincinnati vs. Portland Timbers (Nippert Stadium)

Saturday, April 13, 2019:

  • 1 p.m. ET – Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew SC (Saputo Stadium)
  • 5 p.m. ET – Minnesota United vs. NYCFC (Allianz Field)

Saturday, June 1, 2019:

  • 10:30 p.m. ET – Portland Timbers vs. LAFC (Providence Park)

Champions! Atlanta United win MLS Cup in second season

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Atlanta United didn’t need all that long to earn the right to call themselves the champions of MLS, realizing the two-year-long dream of Arthur Blank and Gerardo “Tata” Martino with a 2-0 victory in the 2018 MLS Cup final on Saturday.

[ MORE: Chelsea hand Man City a first loss | Liverpool win to go top of PL ]

2018 MLS MVP — and single-season goals king (31) — Josef Martinez put his prints everywhere as the Venezuelan bagged a goal and an assist in front of an MLS-record crowd of 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Atlanta enjoyed plenty of possession — more than 56 percent in the first half — but the Timbers midfield and defense did an admirable job to funnel everything from Atlanta out wide once in the final third. From there, Liam Ridgewell and Larrys Mabiala could comfortably head cross after cross away from danger.

[ MORE: Son, Dele send Spurs past Leicester with ease ]

All of the pressing, harrying and chasing finally paid off for Atlanta in the 39th minute, when center back Michael Parkhurst pushed higher and higher up the field and tackled the ball away from Jeremy Ebobisse. Martinez was lurking atop the penalty area — narrowly onside — and knew exactly what to do with the ball when it fell to him.

Brad Guzan was called into action for the first time not long after Martinez’s goal, diving to his right to deny a goal-bound header from Ebobisse.

[ MORE: Messi’s latest free-kick magic (video) ]

Atlanta doubled their lead in the 54th minute, courtesy of a cool finish from Franco Escobar at the back post. Miguel Almiron floated his free kick into the box and Martinez flicked it as the first red shirt in the box. Jorge Villafaña was a full yard behind everyone else in white, keeping Escobar onside, but there was still plenty to be done from there.

After just two seasons in MLS, Martino, who coached his final game in Atlanta on Saturday, has secured his place as one of the league’s great influencers — both in terms of the global interest and respect he commanded, and the tactical daredevil mindset he displayed.

The entire organization in Atlanta has raised the bar in MLS — both in terms of on-field product and the numerous financial investments made by the organization — making Saturday’s finale a thoroughly fitting result.