Adam Kwarasey

Champions! Timbers top Crew SC to lift 2015 MLS Cup


For the first time in club history, the Portland Timbers are Major League Soccer champions after knocking off Columbus Crew SC, 2-1, in the 2015 MLS Cup final at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday.

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Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace will go down in Timbers lore as the scorers of the Rose City’s Cup-winning goals, 27 seconds and seven minutes into the game respectively, lifting Caleb Porter’s side to to the MLS mountaintop.

Valeri, who was named Most Valuable Player of Sunday’s final,  opened the scoring with just 27 seconds on the clock (fastest in MLS Cup history – WATCH HERE), when he capitalized on a shocking error by Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark inside his own penalty area. Clark let the ball run across his body in an attempt to play it out of the back, but a poor first touch saw it run behind him. He attempted to recover quickly, but Valeri sensed the gaffe and was quick to close down the space. When Clark finally attempted to boot it out wide, Valeri came in with the sliding challenge and swept the ball into the back of the net.

Portland quickly doubled their lead after another spell of poor Crew SC defending and a massively blown no-call by an assistant referee. Diego Chara played the ball out wide — too wide, in fact, as in, out of play by a two or three feet — to Alvas Powell, but the assistant referee on that side of the field didn’t signal for the throw-in that should have been given (WATCH HERE). Play continued, Darlington Nagbe weaved his way through midfield, played Lucas Melano through out wide and he crossed for Wallace at the back post, where he headed past Clark for 2-0.

[ MORE: Valeri opens the scoring with MLS Cup record-breaking goal ]

Crew SC pulled a goal back through Kei Kamara (WATCH HERE), scorer of 22 regular-season goals and three more in the MLS Cup Playoffs en route to Sunday’s final, in the 18th minute. A mad scramble inside the Timbers’ penalty area began with a failed punch by Adam Kwarasey, and finished with Kamara dancing his way around a sea of defenders and firing a low, bouncing shot past Kwarasey for 2-1.

Lucas Melano had the best chance to re-establish Portland’s two-goal lead in the 54th minute, but the Argentine newcomer dwelled on the ball far too long inside the penalty area, where he was briefly one-on-one against Clark, allowing Michael Parkhurst to recover and block the untimely shot on goal. Parkhurst came up with another massive block in the 60th minute, making a last-ditch, sliding block against Fanendo Adi.

A moment of pure madness followed on the ensuing corner kick. The ball was whipped into the Crew SC penalty area, where Parkhurst made one goal-line clearance with his forehead, then another with his left arm after the ball caromed off the crossbar. No penalty given, no red card, no yellow card, no whistle blown — nothing.

[ MORE: PST staff predicts MLS Cup 2015 — how’d we do? ]

A header by Adi went inches from doubling the lead in the 71st minute, but the big Nigerian striker could only watch helplessly as the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced back into play, catching Clark completely off-guard, hitting him in the midsection and very nearly deflecting into the goal, but ultimately only going out of play for a corner kick. Scenes. Absolute scenes.

Crew SC mustered very little late on with the game and their season on the line, with Portland effectively seeing out the game en route to lifting the Philip F. Anschutz trophy in front of more than 2,000 traveling fans clad in Green and Gold. Sunday’s MLS Cup triumph makes the Timbers the 10th different MLS franchise to win the title.

MLS Cup 2015: HT update, highlights — Crew SC 1-2 Timbers

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We hope you cleared your calendar and situated yourself on your couch in time for kickoff of the 2015 MLS Cup final, because if you didn’t, you missed a whole lot of action early on in Sunday’s final between Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers.

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Diego Valeri put the visitors from Portland ahead after 27 seconds (fastest in MLS Cup history – WATCH HERE), when Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark made the howler to end all howlers inside his own penalty area. Valeri pounced and made him pay.

The Timbers took a 2-0 lead through Rodney Wallace six minutes later, though the entire build-up to the goal should have never taken place, thus the goal never should have been scored.

That’s a shocking missed call by the assistant referee, who was positioned very well and not that far from the ball when it so clearly crossed the line and went out of play. Darlington Nagbe picked up the ball immediately thereafter, weaved his way through midfield, played it out wide Lucas Melano and he crossed for Wallace at the back post, where he headed past Clark.

[ MORE: MLS Cup 2015 roundtable — storylines, keys and predictions ]

Crew SC pulled one back not long after that, though, through — who else?Kei Kamara, scorer of 22 goals during the regular season and three more in the MLS Cup Playoffs en route to Sunday’s final. This is far from textbook goalkeeping by Adam Kwarasey, but goals count all the same.

VIDEO: Nemeth wins MLS Goal of the Year, Kwarasey wins save award

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Sporting Kansas City forward Krisztian Nemeth won the MLS Goal of the Year award (below video), while Portland Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey won the Save of the Year award (further below video).

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The awards announced Thursday were decided by votes on Major League Soccer’s official website.

Nemeth finished with 10 goals in his first MLS season. He won for his 10th, a goal against Kwarasey in Portland on Oct. 3, which gave Sporting a 1-0 victory over the Timbers.

Kwarasey’s save came at Real Salt Lake on Aug. 15. Kwarasey lunged to save Luke Mulholland’s blast from distance that appeared headed for the upper right corner of the goal. The Timbers won 1-0.

The awards were announced in advance of the MLS Cup championship game between the Timbers and the Columbus Crew on Sunday.