The Portland Timbers won the MLS Cup Sunday. They played away at the Columbus Crews stadium, and enjoyed the support of what looked to be half the audience. The Army travels well. On a cold day, the Timbers were hot enough.
Veleri scored 27 seconds in, the fastest goal in MLS Cup play, and Wallace scored on a header in the seventh minute. That”s all the scoring that would be needed. Columbus scored a goal, but was denied the rest of the game. In the second half, it appeared that the Columbus Crew had erected a force field in the goal mouth, as three Timbers shots that by rights should have gone in, didn’t. It wasn’t the prettiest soccer, but it was enough.
Portland ascended to MLS in 2011, and were overmatched in their first couple of seasons, Seattle and Salt Lake would routinely sink them. But there was a confidence in ownership, seemingly misplaced at the time, that the team would do well. After a couple of years under Coach Spencer and Coach Wilkinson, Caleb Porter was brought in. As I’ve noted, Coach Porter’s mantra was ‘Bring home hardware”. Coach Porter appeared to be on the way, but last year was a step back. Not so this year. The Timbers struggled a bit early in the year, and have mainly flown under the radar. No All-Stars, no MLS Eleven. Ask for a star on the Portland side, and you’ll get five different answers. It has truly been a team effort.
With the championship, the Timbers have equaled the Portland Thorns for visibility. With both NWSL and MSL championships, Portland, Oregon can now make the claim for Soccer City USA.