Portland Timbers Prevail Over Columbus Crew To Win First MLS Cup

The Portland Timbers held on to win their first ever MLS Cup by a score of 2-1 over the Columbus Crew. Two quick goals within the first seven minutes proved enough for Caleb Porter’s men in a dramatic match marked by goalkeeping lapses.

It seemed Columbus was unaware the match had started as they got caught out for two quick goals in the opening minutes. Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark was at fault for taking an extra touch when he should have just cleared the ball sooner. Diego Valeri dived in to block Clark’s effort to clear the ball as it ricocheted off the Portland midfielder into the back of the net 27 seconds into the match.

Portland further took advantage of their fast start again in the 7th minute when Lucas Melano crossed the ball into the box for Rodney Wallace to score off a header. What didn’t help was the missed out-of-bounds call before Portland’s 2nd goal by the officials. Tony Tchani stopped, thinking play was dead which allowed Darlington Nagbe to take the ball and produce a great cross to set up Wallace.

The Crew continued to assert themselves after scoring two quick goals with possession of the ball. Yet the cliché about 2-0 being the most dangerous score line became apparent once again.

In the 18th minute, Timbers goalie Adam Kwaresy failed to punch the ball away as it found Kei Kamara who turned and put a hard, low shot through a defender’s legs. Kwarasey’s mistake allowed Columbus the opportunity to get back into the final just when Portland could have killed off the match.

The half became more of a bitter struggle with neither side really controlling the play. Will Trapp, who was lauded for his major role in shutting down the Red Bulls, gave the ball away repeatedly. Tchani though began to become more influential as the half progressed.

There really weren’t many chances created outside of the goals in the first half. Clark though had a opportunity to atone himself with a diving save to stop Fanendo Adi’s low shot at the near post in the 40th minute.

Portland started to get more involved again at the end of the half with Columbus’ attack featuring Ethan Finlay being completely neutralized. Portland’s conceded goal though gave Columbus room to have hope in the second half.

In the second half, the Crew was on top in terms of dictating the play as Portland initially had more men positioned further back. Portland though had their chances especially with Melano as Michael Parkhurst blocked his scuffed shot in the 53rd minute. Melano a few minutes later was able to evade multiple defenders but his shot was comfortably handled by Clark.

Columbus was fortunate to not concede when a scramble in front of the goal in the 60th minute nearly had the ball cross the line twice. The Crew was also fortunate Parkhurst wasn’t called for a handball as he used his arm to keep the ball out along the line. Missed calls by the officiating crew had now benefitted both teams in the final.

In the 72nd minute, Adi connected on a cross from the left side with a header that knocked off the post and then Clark to go unbelievably out of play. Portland was no doubt ruing the missed chances to kill off the match.

Columbus was also trying to use crosses from wide play to break down Portland’s defense but to no avail. In the 82nd minute, Clark stopped a point-blank header from Nat Borchers . Clark then had to deny Adi who got in on goal from the left side moments after his spectacular save. It was ironic that after a horrible error in the first minute, Clark’s heroics were keeping Columbus in the match.

Columbus continued to ramp up the pressure on Portland but couldn’t create chances in their pursuit for an equalizer. Portland’s organized defense lead by Borchers and Liam Ridgewell in the center did enough to hold on as Columbus just couldn’t find a breakthrough in the end.