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Volume 25 No. 151
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MLS Cup Shows Growing Impact Latino Players Have On League

This season Atlanta United's Josef Martinez led MLS in goals and won the MVP
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Over the past few MLS seasons, there has been a "slowly dawning, almost reluctant it seems, discovery that Latino players ... can hugely improve their teams," but Saturday's MLS Cup final between the Timbers and Atlanta United is a "showcase game that would highlight the skills and thrills of futbol," according to Paul Gardner of SOCCER AMERICA. Atlanta United and the Timbers have "not only been winning regularly," they have also been "exciting and entertaining to watch." This MLS Cup Final has the "opportunity to give us a memorable game." There may never have been an MLS Cup with "so much attacking brilliance on the field," and it is "worth pausing for a moment to gaze at all that talent." It is "all there, a real final, two first-class teams who must, surely, produce a first-class game." For MLS, the "first Latino final, a game that can show MLS, with its ridiculous subservience to mediocre European players and patterns, [is] just what it has been missing all these years." Gardner: "This should be a spectacular game" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 12/5).

SOUTHERN FLAIR: In Atlanta, Doug Roberson wrote Saturday's MLS Cup will have a "distinctively South American feel." Timbers manager Giovanni Savarese said that MLS is "becoming a league of priority for South Americans." Atlanta United D Franco Escobar, who is from Argentina, said that part of the attraction is the "quality of the league." Escobar said, "They know it's a difficult league with good teams and players. If you come here expecting it to be an easy league, then you are making a mistake, but I think all those guys, you've seen the effort they've put in, and that's why there are so many Argentines in the final" (AJC.com, 12/5). SI's Grant Wahl tweeted, "Never thought I'd see the day when MLS final has more South American flavor and atmosphere than the Libertadores final" (TWITTER.com, 12/5).