Portland Timbers claim 1st MLS Cup title amid controversy and calamity

The record books will show the Portland Timbers won their first ever MLS Cup title in just their fifth ever season in the league, taking down host Columbus Crew SC 2-1 in what will be a long talked about final.

It started off in a howling fashion, as Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark took a back pass and decided he was an outfield player. Only problem was, he was being closed down on and couldn’t get the ball transferred between his feet.

Portland’s Diego Valeri took complete advantage and ricocheted the lame attempt to get rid of the ball right in to the net. All of that in just the first 30 seconds of the mach for a 1-0 Portland lead nonetheless.

It was the fastest goal in MLS Cup history and set a crazy precedent for what would go down as one of the craziest MLS Cup finals in history.

The Timbers didn’t let up after the early lead either, as they went up 2-0 on one of the most controversial missed moments in MLS Cup history. Columbus forced a back pass near the sideline, only to see clearly that Portland’s pass went out of bounds before being passed back in to the field of play.

Columbus’ players stopped on the play, believing it was going to be called, except it never did. Instead, Portland took the ball of Columbus and Darlington Nagbe set up his teammate Lucas Melano, who set up Rodney Wallace for a 2-0 Timbers lead just seven minutes in to the match.

Some in the home supporters section were none too happy and reigned down bottles and paper on Portland players celebrating near their section.

The goal, and more importantly, the play that never was called out of bounds before it would only come in to further controversy because of what happened 11 minutes later.

After giving up the two opening goals on a howler by Clark and a howler by the linesman, Columbus got one back thanks to a howler on the other end of things. Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey went to grab a cross, only to see it spill horribly and come right to the feet of the most lethal goalscorer in MLS this season — Kei Kamara.

The Sierra Leonean took a second to get the ball out from under his feet, but once he did it was all over and in seconds he had slotted home Columbus’ first of the game.

However, the home side couldn’t find an equalizer and the 2-1 scoreline could’ve been a lot uglier too. Both sides hit the post multiple times, Portland had a free header be saved by the falling Clark in improbable fashion, had Clark see one off the post and off his chest and out of bounds and finally also saw a ball hit off a Columbus defender’s upper arm after hitting the woodwork in the upper corner as well.

Those were but a few twists in what turned out to be a very feisty and nasty contest for the most part. Officiating, and the lax nature of it had a lot to do with it in the first half.

Jair Marrufo, a veteran MLS ref was in charge of this contest and he had trouble controlling physical play in the first half, only to ramp up the calls in the second as well.

Columbus threw everything at Portland in the final 15 minutes of the match, but the Timbers were up to every task asked of them defensively and Crew SC created few actual chances in the final moments.

Portland’s victory puts them in elite company, as jus the third expansion side to ever hoist the MLS Cup title. They join Chicago Fire (1998) and Real Salt Lake (2009) as the only clubs to pull off that feat.

For manager Caleb Porter, he becomes the second coach to win both an NCAA championship and an MLS Cup title — joining Bruce Arena in accomplishing that feat.

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!