The Timbers Army echoed from end to end inside MAPFRE Stadium Sunday evening, as the Portland Timbers collected their first MLS Cup in franchise history with a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC. Portland’s MLS franchise was first founded in 2009 and kicked off for the first time in 2011. After a rough opening season, a managerial change, and a rapid increase in success, the Timbers brought home the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy to their incredible fan base after just 6 years in the league. The almost 22,000 supporters in attendance got their moneys worth with this match, as they saw the fastest goal in MLS Cup history, three shots hit the woodwork, and 90-plus minutes of physical fútbol.
Streamers and smoke from the pre-game pyrotechnic show occupied the air around me and the rest section 104, as anticipation of Columbus winning its second title since 2008 was in the minds of Crew fans across MAPFRE Stadium. However, the cheers throughout the pitch were quickly silenced as Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark took an unfortunate touch on a pass back to him, that resulted in Timber midfielder Diego Valeri sliding in and slotting home the game’s opening goal just 27 seconds in. The shock on the faces of the Crew fans across rows was eminent, and despair quickly set in.
The collective anguish around the stadium would soon evolve into beer cans being tossed at Timber’s forward Rodney Wallace, as he netted home a second goal in the 7th minute, creating a total uphill battle for the Crew for the remaining minutes. Columbus ultimately would pull within one, as star Kai Kamara scored in his first MLS Cup appearance. However, his efforts, along with some impressive play from midfielder Federico Higuaín, were not enough and Portland rode its early advantage all the way to the champion’s stage.