The longer it takes, the sweeter it tastes, they say. And, for the city of Portland, it couldn’t taste any sweeter. It took 38 years for its citizens to enjoy a professional sports crown since the 1977 NBA Trail Blazers. Last Sunday, December 6th, the Timbers delivered the first professional soccer title in the city’s history, claiming the 2015 MLS Cup.
Becoming the Champs
Timbers are the fourth franchise based in Portland to share the legacy of the Timbers name. They played their first MLS game on March 19, 2011, against reigning MLS champions Colorado Rapids, but lost 3–1.
Since then, the road has been short, but bumpy. In their first season, Portland Timbers were in 6th place in the Western Conference and 12th place overall. In 2012, the team fired coach John Spencer and signed Caleb Porter, who was previously head coach of the United States U-23 team and the University of Akron men’s team from 2006 to 2012.
That season, the Timbers finished with the 3rd worst record in the league and were 8th out of 9th in the Western Conference. Nonetheless, in the 2013 MLS season, Portland finished first in the Western Conference, clinching both their first-ever playoff appearance and CONCACAF Champions League berth.
Since the very first seconds, Portland remained focused on their initial offensive strategy, which couldn’t work any better, as forward Diego Valeri, anticipated Columbus Crew goalkeeper, Steve Clark. Clark tried to kick a long pass, but Valeri slid and deflected the pass into the net.
In only 27 seconds, Portland was up 1-0. Scoring the fastest goal in MLS championship match history. Just seven minutes later, the Costa Rican forward, Rodney Wallace doubled the margin to 2-0, with a diving header.
Eleven minutes later, The Crew woke up and reacted, thanks to a scrambled goal scored by Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara, who had been questionable for the match after an ankle injury in Saturday’s final practice.
Both teams continued fighting until the end of the 90 minutes of regular time. The Crew tried to push forward as Portland was forced to step back and guard the score. Nonetheless, the match was already outlined in the first 18 minutes.
For Monday, Timbers fans will receive their soccer stars at Portland International Airport, just to begin the party and unwrap the early Christmas present that their team is bringing home.