Atlanta United is a prohibitive favorite -- fivethirtyeight.com calculates it at a 77 percent probability -- to defeat Portland and win the MLS Cup on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
If the Five Stripes are as confident as the calculations, they aren’t showing it.
“We know it’s a serious game,” Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said. “If we start thinking we have it won, that’s the surest way we will lose. Portland’s a really good team with really good players. We are taking this with same seriousness, same motivation that we do every game and we are going to give maximum effort.”
Atlanta United’s probability is increased by several factors, including that it’s playing at home, where an MLS Cup record more than 70,000 tickets are expected to be sold and distributed.
It has the MVP, Josef Martinez.
It has the MVP runner-up, Miguel Almiron.
It finished with more points than the Timbers, 69-54, despite playing in what was considered the tougher conference.
None of that matters when it comes to playing a single game.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Almiron said. “The Timbers are coming with everything they have. It will be a beautiful game, a game everyone will want to watch.”
Speaking earlier this week, Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said, “Not only satisfied to get to the Cup, but to give everything we have in this final match. Also, we understand very clearly that we have a very good team in front of us, a team that will be strong, a team that will have a great crowd with a great coach an d good players, and that is even more motivation.”