Atlanta United wins MLS Cup in second season

Atlanta United has won the MLS Cup in just their second season, defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0 in front of a record crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 12:59 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 1:14 PM

City drop points for the first time this season... United end Georgia's trophy drought with MLS Cup victory... Army continue winning ways over arch-rival Navy... Bulls struggle under new head coach... Copa final match finally gets played... this is your weekend of sport.

City comes unstuck; Sterling suffers racist taunts

It's too early to say if it's a power shift or a blip, but for now at least, the Premier League table has a new leader. Chelsea became the first team this season to down champion Manchester City, inflicting a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge and allowing Liverpool to claim the top spot, thanks to its outsized victory over Bournemouth.

Going into the weekend, City has looked irresistible, while Chelsea has struggled to maintain consistency. Amid the ongoing -- and legitimate -- gripes about the Manchester team's outsize financial clout, the Sky Blues remain scintillating to watch, and for the most part impossible to undo.

Amid the celebrations, the Blues' win was marred by an apparent racist incident in London, with City star Raheem Sterling alleging he was subject to racist abuse -- a scourge that, despite progress over the years, sadly appears to have never fully left the English game.

It was an inopportune time for the champions to drop points; as we approach the EPL's halfway point and the games come thick and fast, none of the top sides lost.

Still-unbeaten Liverpool climb to the top slot after a 4-0 away win at Bournemouth, Spurs beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power, Arsenal snatched a nervy 1-0 home win over Huddersfield and city rivals United comfortably put basement-dwelling Fulham to the sword, 4-1 at Old Trafford.

Atlanta United proves age no barrier to success

It had everything for a storybook ending -- Major League Soccer newcomers Atlanta United, appearing in only the team's second-ever season, played their hearts out for their outgoing manager.

In the wider narrative, the 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers in front of an MLS-record 73,019 fans in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium ended a trophy drought for the city that had extended back to the Braves' 1995 World Series.

It couldn't have ended better for coach Tata Martino, who previously announced he was leaving the club after this season.

"If I had to choose the way to leave somewhere, this is the best way," the Argentine said after the historic win.

It was also a breakthrough for veteran defender Michael Parkhurst, who tasted victory after four final losses, for the Columbus Crew in 2015 (which came against Portland) and the New England Revolution in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

"I looked up in like the 93rd minute, and I knew it: It was over," the American said. "(I had) a big smile on my face. I dreamed of what it felt like to be in the locker room with the champagne. I've heard it before from the other locker room. It was worth the wait."

Army outguns Navy

It's one of college football's fiercest rivalries, but the balance of power looks increasingly like it's shifting.

The Army Black Knights took apart the Navy Midshipmen for the service academy's third straight win over the its foe with a clinical performance, weathering a late, fourth quarter Navy rally for a 17-10 win, which sees it improve to 10-2 for the season.

It played out in front of a packed house, with US President Donald Trump in attendance. The President flipped the coin for kickoff and switched ends at halftime in a rare show of bipartisanship.

Navy still holds the edge in the historic series, 60-52-7, but the gap is closing. A resurgent Army, under coach Jeff Monken, has turned from an often moribund team into one with Bowl aspirations.

But in the meantime, this is the big one. The win means Army retains the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, and bragging rights return to West Point along with the silverware.

"I don't ever want our guys to stop celebrating," Monken said after the game. "I promise you, I'll be celebrating every year if we win this thing, because I know how hard it is."

Coach Boylen already under scrutiny as Celtics steamroll Bulls

It was a wild night in Chicago as the Boston Celtics rolled into town, with both teams entering the record books for very different reasons.

For the Celtics, the 133-77 trouncing was its highest-ever margin of victory, and equaled the league's highest-ever points differential for a team on the road. For the Bulls, it will be remembered as the worst loss in franchise history.

The Chicago team had come into the match on a high -- its previous game against Oklahoma City produced its biggest win of the season -- but their performance was lamentable Saturday night, and reports suggest that the players are pushing back against coach Jim Boylen after only three games in the hot seat.

Boylen, who's only just promoted to head coach from a supporting role -- he's been with the organization since 2015 -- says the funk is due to the players and coach still feeling each other out.

"We're still learning about each other," he said. "They're still learning how I want it. There's been a little shock and awe here in the last seven days. And there's an adjustment to that."

While he has the backing of the organization, it's the players he needs to convince to avoid routs like Saturday's. Time will tell how they adjust to his aggressive style.

Copa Libertadores finally played out

Was it worth the wait?

Two weeks later than planned and over 6,000 miles away from River Plate's Estadio Monumental, the Buenos Aires team would say "yes."

The match was held in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium, following fan trouble ahead of the planned second leg at the Monumental.

River Plate took control late in the game, needing injury time to put away arch-rivals Boca Junior 3-1 on the night, for an aggregate score of 5-3. It took an assured Juan Quintero strike almost 20 minutes into extra time to break the deadlock.

This edition, a supercharged version of the Buenos Aires Superclasico, was the Argentine side's fourth Copa, and by far its most controversial.

But savor the victory. The two postponements and a trans-continental shift to safer territory won't do Argentina's bid for the 2030 World Cup -- held jointly with Uruguay and Paraguay -- any favors.

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