Borchers lifts the MLS Cup

The world always loves an underdog. However, there didn’t seem to be a lot of love floating around when the Portland Timbers took the field against the Columbus Crew. The MLS, despite actively promoting the parity the league is capable of, tends to have the desire, along with the fan-base and other clubs, of the major clubs being victorious. However, in terms of fan-base activity and passion, even the most battle-hardened in Seattle would have to admit that the Timbers Army and the Portland fan-base might be one of the most deserving clubs in the MLS to bring home the league’s biggest prize.

But, let’s be clear, it wasn’t being “deserving” that got the Timbers the club’s first title and the Portland sports world its first title in over two decades. This club went on a run that nearly every sports fan talks about when the playoffs beckon: the Timbers got hot at the perfect time, and rode that wave all the way to the end. An incredible outburst of scoring, a backline that put everything on the line, and now the title heads back to Cascadia for some serious celebrating.

The MLS final itself was an intense affair, complete with referee mistakes and tons of drama. The Timbers capitalized on a bit of goalkeeper overconfidence in the first minute of the game to rush out to a one-nil lead. It came as no surprise that is was Diego Valeri, the heart of everything with flair and creativity for the Timbers since returning from a serious knee injury, pouncing and giving the Timbers the lead.

The second goal was a bit controversial, as the sideline official made serious mistake right before the build-up. The ball had gone out of play by about a full yard during a Timbers passing move, but the ball bounced to a Crew player. The Crew player lost out after a moment and gave the ball away, but it seemed like the player was expecting the referee to stop the play. The Timbers then moved the ball forward, played the ball out wide, and scored from a lovely cross to a diving header. While this would seem like it covered the entire final in controversy, enough calls went against the Timbers later, that it ended up feeling equaled out by the final whistle.

The Crew was able to bring one goal back after a mad scramble in the box from a corner, but it would end up not being enough to change the end result. The Timbers got robbed of a stone-cold penalty call in the second half, but the game would end with Portland celebrating the night away in Columbus.

The Timbers are champions, but it is never too early to look toward the future. It has always been surprising that someone hasn’t made a big money move for Valeri yet, Will Johnson is rumored to be moving on, and the central defensive pair will have a massive battle coming back next year with the same fire (Borchers will be 35 next year). The goals might still continue to flow, and Porter will still be one of the best coaches in the American game, but there might be no team in the history of the MLS that will have as hard a time recreating their path to the title as this Portland squad. However, the fan-base will still be one of the greatest things that the MLS can provide.

There is still no pity in the Rose City…but the club is now a champion.

Congratulations Portland Timbers!


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