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NYCFC win MLS Cup in penalty shootout

New York City FC have overcame a hostile environment and a late Portland equaliser to upset the Timbers in a penalty shootout and claim the franchise’s first MLS Cup.

Golden Boot winner Valentin ‘Taty’ Castellanos scored in the opening half and it appeared that NYCFC were on their way to the league championship in regulation, only for Portland’s Felipe Mora to sensationally equalise at 1-1 in the final minute of stoppage time.

After the teams went scoreless in extra time, Callen’s penalty sealed NYCFC’s 4-2 shootout victory – with goalkeeper Sean Johnson saving the first two Portland spot-kick attempts from Mora and substitute Diego Valeri.

NYCFC celebrated in front of the goal after Callens converted, while Valeri lay in the center of the field in disbelief. A group of New York players broke off from the party to salute their fans, grouped in the opposite corner of the stadium.

NYCFC, who joined the league in 2015, had never before advanced to the title game.

Castellanos, who had 19 goals in the regular season, was back in the starting line-up after missing the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia through suspension.

The Timbers won an MLS Cup in 2015 and went to the final in 2018 but fell to Atlanta.

In Portland the teams had to contend with rather nasty weather conditions, with steady rain and gusty winds adding to the cold.

Castellanos scored on a header off a free kick from Maxi Moralez in the 40th minute, giving NYCFC the lead.

The goal celebration was marred when it appeared New York’s Jesus Medina was struck by an object thrown by a fan.

The Timbers at times looked disorganised but they continued to search for a leveller that finally arrived when Mora struck with virtually the last kick of regulation time.

NYCFC players argued that it should have been ruled out for a free kick, claiming that Maxime Chanot was fouled by Portland’s Larry Mabiala in the run-up to the goal.

NYCFC join parent club Manchester City in the Abu Dhabi-funded group in winning a title.

The group now partially or completely own NYCFC and Manchester City, as well as Melbourne City in Australia, and teams in Belgium, China, France, India, Japan, Spain and Uruguay – with a partnership in Bolivia as well.

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