The 20th Edition of the MLS Cup Final showcased Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew, two dark-horse teams, unlikely finalists, in an epic midfield battle at MAPFRE Stadium today at 4pm ET. The Timbers FC defeated the hometown heroes Columbus Crew SC 2-1 in their first ever 2015 MLS Cup Final.
Let’s be honest, no one predicted these two teams would be the final two standing at the end of the MLS Playoffs. Yet, against the odds, two relatively dark horse teams battled, and quite physically, for dominance today. It was Portland’s first MLS Cup Final and Columbus Crew’s chance for a second Cup, the first for their top scorer, Kei Kamara.
Things started off on the wrong foot for the home team however, with Portland Timbrs’ Diego Valeri capitalizing on a prime vantage point to a back pass from Wil Trapp, beating Steve Clark to the net, and scoring the fastest goal in MLS Cup Final history well under a minute (27 seconds to be exact!).
Within another 8 minutes, Columbus Crew sank further into a hole as Lucas Melano crossed a ball straight at a dangerously open Rodney Wallace, slipping it in past the Crew’s goalkeeper for their second of the day. In spite of a little controversy over whether there ought to have been stoppage for a throw-in, Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter knew there were no excuses for his team’s slip up. “In professional sports you play to either the ball is out of bounds or to the whistle,” he said later when asked.
It seemed the Timbers Army Tifo’s message was coming true. “We’re Gonna Do What They Say Can’t be Done!”
“It doesn’t just happen. I think you saw true belief in this team every single game in the playoffs, that we weren’t just happy to be in it we actually believe that we would win it.”
– Portland Timbers head coach, Caleb Porter
However, Columbus wouldn’t go quietly, countering at every available opportunity, and finally tossing their hat into the ring when Kei Kamara bested Adam Kwarasey in the box after the goalkeeper failed to smother a loose ball. Finally Columbus was on the scoreboard at the 18th minute. Unfortunately, that was also the only shot on target in the nine Columbus took the entire match.
After another dicey and physically challenging 30 minutes with more efforts on goal from both sides, the first half ended 1-2 in favor of the MLS Cup newbies, Timbers FC.
And though the second half began with a strong showing from Columbus Crew SC looking for an equalizer, Portland settled into the pace quickly, effectively shutting them down. No extra boost came from adding in the youthful and eager Jack McInerney into the mix up top. Portland was simply too focused on securing their first ever MLS Cup win. And win they did!