The Portland Timbers came into Columbus and the MLS Cup game as underdogs, but left as MLS Cup champions, triumphing over the Columbus Crew 2-1, with early goals from Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace sealing the historic victory.
The Timbers enjoyed a dream start within 27 seconds of kickoff, when midfielder Diego Valeri took advantage of Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark’s horrendous error.
Valeri made a strong tackle on the ‘keeper and the Timbers quickly found themselves up 1-0 to the complete disbelief of the Crew and their fans.
Valeri’s goal was the fastest goal ever scored in MLS Cup history.Embed from Getty Images
The Crew struggled to connect on their passes early on due to the Timbers’ high pressure on the midfield and defense. It eventually led to a crucial turnover that the Timbers capitalised on in the 7th minute to make it 2-0.
Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe found winger Lucas Melano, who crossed it into the six-yard box. Rodney Wallace connected with a flying header and put the ball into the back of the Crew’s net to further stun the home crowd.
Controversy couldn’t stay away from this cup final, as replays later showed that the ball won by Powell in the build up to the goal was actually a couple of feet out of play.
Portland and Columbus had probably planned for most eventualities. But being two up after seven minutes is a strange situation for any side, let alone an away side in a final. The Timbers started the game like it was the 87th minute, and not the 7th.
With their backs against the wall, the Crew quickly came alive and regained control of the game. They continued to find chances in the first half and were eventually rewarded in the 18th minute.
The home team found fullback Harrison Afful, who crossed it into the penalty area. A goal-mouth scramble ensued and league-leading scorer Kei Kamara was on hand to finish.
Portland looked happy to hear the halftime whistle and head coach Caleb Porter sent them out in the second half with a solid game plan to hit Columbus on the break.
The Crew dominated possession and created chances. However, their finishing left them wanting, as they were unable to register a shot on target in the second half.
Portland took advantage of the Crew playing high up the field by countering back whenever they found the chance. That led to two huge opportunities that hit the woodwork as a third goal looked more likely that a Columbus equaliser.
The first left the Crew scrambling on a corner, as the ball fell to Wallace, who had his shot saved by Clark. The clearance then hit the crossbar before getting cleared.
The second chance came for Timbers striker Fanendo Adi as his header from Jorge Villafana’s cross hit the far post before hitting Steve Clark, who fumbled the ball out of bounds.
Both teams continued to fight tooth and nail for every loose ball and take any shot they could get. But as the final minutes of added time came and went the final whistle blew, the Timbers rushed onto the field knowing that they just won their first ever MLS Cup.