Ireland's Alan Kelly to take charge of the MLS Cup between Atlanta United and Portland Timbers tonight

Sat, Dec 08 2018

Kelly spent 15 years refereeing in Ireland before taking up a technical position with MLS in 2013. Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Former League of Ireland referee Alan Kelly will take charge of America’s biggest game, the MLS Cup, when Atlanta United take on Portland Timbers in Atlanta tonight (kick-off 1am Irish time).

The Corkman not be the only Irishman in action on the field at the Mercedes-Benz Arena as former Ireland under-21 midfielder Chris McCann is in the squad for the home side.

Eastern Conference champions Atlanta will host Western Conference winners Portland with the likes of ex-Argentina midfielder Diego Valeri and Venezuela striker Josef Martínez set to be on show.

Kelly will take charge of the fixture for the second time after winning the Referee of the Year award in the States for the third time in the space of four years.

The 43-year-old whistler spent 15 years in the League of Ireland before moving to the United States to take up a technical role in 2013.

He was pressed into action due to an industrial dispute and quickly established himself as the best in the league.

Kelly, who played underage with Avondale United and Cork City, was appointed to the FIFA list in 2002 and has reffed games in qualification for three World Cups.

He took charge of the 2016 MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle Sounders, which was decided with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win for Seattle after it ended scoreless after 120 minutes.