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Portland Timbers capture MLS Cup – SportsUntapped.com
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Added December 8th, 2015 by Ian

Portland Timbers capture MLS Cup
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The Western Conference Portland Timbers won their first-ever MLS Cup on Sunday, December 6th by downing the Columbus Crew 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. The league announced that 21,747 spectators were on hand to witness the historic victory. The Timbers are the first professional male sports organization in Portland to win a league championship since the Portland Trail Blazers captured the NBA Championship back in the 1976/77 season. The Timbers franchise has been around for 40 years now and MLS is the third league they’ve played in since being launched. However, they’ve only been members of MLS since 2011.

The Timbers came together under head coach Caleb Porter late in the season by closing the regular campaign with three straight wins. The team then went undefeated in the playoffs, but still entered the final game in Columbus as the underdogs with fans and the bookmakers. Columbus players also armed the Timbers with more motivation when they stated in the press that they felt they would be able to handle their opponents in the cup final. Jorge Villafana, a defender with the Timbers stated, “It was motivating because Columbus players, they were talking ahead of time. I think your talk should be when you play, what you do on the field. We were humble. We never talked that we were the best team. We showed it on the field.”

It didn’t take long for Portland to show they meant business as midfielder Diego Valeri put his squad out to a 1-0 lead just 27 seconds after the opening kickoff. The goal was the fastest in the history of the MLS Cup and Valeri ended up being named the game’s most valuable player. The Crew didn’t know what hit them as Portland doubled their lead just six minutes later when Rodney Wallace headed in a perfect cross from the right wing by Lucas Melano. The next goal appeared to be a huge one since a 3-0 lead may have clinched the game right then and there.

However, the home side made a game of it when Kei Kamara, the league’s co-leading goalscorer with 22 on the season, found the back of the net in the 18th minute to cut the lead to 2-1. Even though both teams had several chances to add to their total, there were no more goals during the match. Portland couldn’t build on their lead as they hit the woodwork three times in the second half. In addition, Columbus was credited with just one shot on target and that one went in the net. Portland topped the Western Conference back in the 2013 season, but were eliminated in the playoffs when Real Salt Lake ousted them in the Western Conference Final. They then missed the postseason entirely last year when they fell short by just one point.

They rebounded this year though with a record of 15 wins, eight draws and 11 losses for third place in the Western Conference. Columbus finished the season with the same record and were runners up in the East. Portland now becomes the 10th different club to win the MLS Cup and the 14th different team to reach the Final. The Crew was attempting to win their second championship after capturing the title in the 2008 season. Columbus and Portland met once during the regular season with the Timbers also winning that contest 2-1 in Columbus.

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