NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City FC booked a spot in their first Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup final with a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, but coach Ronny Deila knows his team will have to improve if they are to beat Portland in the title decider.
Philadelphia Union took the lead in the Eastern Conference Final thanks to an own goal from Alexander Callens before New York hit back through Maxi Moralez and Talles Magno.
Deila conceded that his team had underperformed against Philadelphia and that they would need to regroup for a “big fight” against the Timbers on Saturday in Portland.
“This team, they don’t stop, they keep going,” said Delia, who will welcome Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos back into the squad for the finale after the forward sat out Sunday’s game due to suspension.
In Saturday’s Western Conference final, the Timbers beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 to reach their second MLS Cup final in four years, Felipe Mora and Santiago Moreno getting the goals.
Portland, who won the title in 2015, will be boosted by the return of Dairon Asprilla after the forward missed Saturday’s game due to suspension.
Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese, who guided them to victory in last year’s MLS is Back Tournament marking the league’s return from its COVID-19 shutdown, said they had a strong team-first mentality.
“We’ve been able to bring the right players to create a strong culture,” he said. “We enjoy being around each other in facility to coming into work — it really feels that we are a family.”
The Timbers are known to have one of the league’s most fanatical fanbases and Savarese said it was a “dream” to play for the championship in front of them.
“The dream became a reality and the only way it became a reality is because of the hard work everyone has put in this year,” he said.
The MLS Cup final is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (2000 GMT).
(This story has been refiled to fix spelling of Deila in first paragraph)
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford)