Soccer: Johnson, Callens lead NYCFC to MLS Cup win over Portland Timbers

Soccer: Johnson, Callens lead NYCFC to MLS Cup win over Portland Timbers
NYCFC goalie Steve Johnson saved several penalty kick attempts to spark a win over the Portland Timbers in the 2021 MLS Cup final on Saturday in Portland. Photo by Jared Martinez/Matthew Stith/MLS

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Alexander Callens converted NYCFC's final attempt in a penalty kick session and goalie Steve Johnson made several clutch stops to secure an MLS Cup final victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

The teams entered the penalty kick session after the game stayed tied 1-1 through regulation and extra time at Providence Park.


"We stepped up in a big way," Johnson told ABC. "I was able to get a couple saves and the boys buried the rest."

Johnson saved the Timbers' first two penalty kicks. Valentin Castellanos, Maximiliano Moralez and Talles Mango made their attempts for NYCFC. Callens then ended the game with his successful attempt, giving NYFC a 4-2 edge in the session.

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Castellanos, the MLS Golden Boot winner, also scored in the 41st minute. NYFC led for the majority of regulation.

Moralez took a free kick from outside the box to set up the game's first score. The feed bent toward the far post. Castellanos jumped through crowd of defenders and finished the play with a header into the right side of the goal.


Felipe Mora equalized in the final seconds of regulation. Timbers winger Yimmi Chara sparked the sequence when he headed the ball into the box in stoppage time.

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NYCFC blocked an initial attempt by Timbers striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda. The deflected shot sprayed out to Mora, who finished with a first-touch rip into the right side of the net.

Neither team could find the net in extra time, resulting in the shootout. Castellanos made NYCFC's first penalty attempt. Johnson then blocked Mora's shot.

Alfredo Morales missed NYCFC's second attempt. Johnson then blocked an attempt from Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri.

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Moralez gave NYCFC a 2-1 edge in the session when he made his team's third attempt. Santiago Moreno answered with a successful attempt for the Timbers.

Mango and Cristhian Paredes each converted the next attempts for NYCFC and the Timbers, respectively. Callens then ended the game with a blast into the right side of the net.

"It was a crazy game," NYCFC manager Ronny Deila told ABC. "I thought we had full control of the game for the first 90 minutes, but like so many times this year, we came back.

"They are winners."

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