Lucas Melano

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MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 3-1 Seattle Sounders (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): When the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders get together, they do not disappoint. Sunday’s Cascadia Cup clash, the first of three this season, was no different. The Timbers have the MLS Cup, something their northern neighbors so desperately wish to capture themselves, and now they have the first bragging rights of 2016 following a 3-1 victory over the Clint Dempsey-less (suspension) Sounders, thanks in large part to two Diego Valeri goals and two Lucas Melano assists. Fanendo Adi bagged the third goal for Portland (29 points), who with three points climb over Sporting Kansas City for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff place (with a game in hand). Meanwhile, the Sounders remain ninth in the West, nine points behind their rivals and a playoff place. The two sides will meet again on Aug. 21, in Seattle.

[ MORE: Recapping Saturday night’s MLS action ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

17′ — Morris misses from 7 yards out — Left foot, Jordan. Left foot. How differently this game could have been…

44′ — Valeri slots home to finish a lethal counter — Lucas Melano does so, so, so well to carry the ball as far as he can, until the very last second, and create just a bit more space for Valeri to run into. Valeri’s finish is simply sublime.

50′ — Valeri defies geometric probabilities to make it 2-0 — An unreal strike from an improbable angle.

59′ — Marshall heads home Ivanschitz’s corner — Big man gets up, makes it a one-goal game again.

64′ — Adi finishes another devastating counter — Melano was absolutely brilliant on Sunday. His 60-yard dribble through the center of the field, the timing of his pass to Fanendo Adi — it was all perfect from the Argentine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri/Lucas Melano

Goalscorers: Valeri (44′, 50′), Marshall (59′), Adi (64′)

Champions! Timbers top Crew SC to lift 2015 MLS Cup

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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.

FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup 2015 — Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers

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Today is the day. This is the big one. For all the marbles. It all comes down to this: MLS Cup 2015.

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Sunday’s final is scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff. Starting lineups for both sides can be found below. Kei Kamara, who was injured in Crew SC’s final training session yesterday afternoon, starts up for the Black and Gold. For Portland, Liam Ridgewell returns from a calf injury to start alongside Nat Borchers in defense, while Caleb Porter has opted for Lucas Melano over Dairon Asprilla on the wing.

Follow along with Sunday’s MLS Cup final action at the link below.

FOLLOW LIVE — Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers — MLS Cup 2015

MLS Cup Playoffs: Portland Timbers 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

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The game in 100 words (or less): Ban two-leg series in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Seriously, ban them. Not only was the New York Red Bulls’ narrow victory over D.C. United earlier on Sunday bad soccer due to the two-leg and away-goal rules, but so was the second game of the day, a hugely disappointing 0-0 draw between Cascadia Cup rival Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park. The Whitecaps, one of the league’s most attack-minded teams, elected to start three central midfielders in order to secure the scoreless result before hosting the second leg at BC Place next Sunday, and were painfully successful in doing so (40 percent of possession, 10 shots, 3 on target). To the Timbers’ credit, they went for it slightly more than their Pacific Northwest neighbors (11 shots, 6 on target) less than 72 hours after playing 120 minutes before knocking off Sporting Kansas City in an epically dramatic penalty kick shootout Thursday night.

[ MORE: MLS playoff predictions | Preseason predictions revisited ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Ousted down quickly to stop Melano’s effort — Rodney Wallace sent in a left-sided cross that begged the Whitecaps defenders to boot it clear, yet no one did so. It rolled all the way to Lucas Melano, who arrived into the penalty area late and did his best to direct the ball on goal. David Ousted was down quickly, though, and held comfortably.

72′ — Ousted at full stretch to tip Valeri’s FK wide — Diego Valeri delivered the inch-perfect free kick that would have nestled itself just inside the post and under the crossbar against just about any other goalkeeper in MLS. Unfortunately for Valeri and the Timbers, Ousted was the man in goal, and he’s very, very good.

89′ — Urruti hits the post after beautiful build-up — Valeri played Maximiliano Urruti through toward the corner of the six-yard box, and the Argentine striker went for the far-post finish, only to be denied by the front of the post. Beautifully worked by the Timbers, so cruelly denied.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Ousted

Goalscorers: None.

Timbers use TAM to pay down Adi, add new Argentine DP striker (video)

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The Portland Timbers have made use of Major League Soccer’s new Targeted Allocation Money policy to land themselves another forward.

The Timbers used TAM to pay down Fanendo Adi’s Designated Player salary to below the DP minimum, using that extra league money to sign 22-year-old Argentine forward Lucas Melano.

[ MORE: USWNT’s Holiday explains decision to retire ]

Melano is a former Argentina U-20 player who has plied his trade professionally with Lanus and Belgrano in his home country, where he scored 15 times in 86 matches.

Melano becomes Portland’s fifth Argentine player, and second Argentine DP after Diego Valeri. Maxi Urruti, Norberto Paparatto, and Gaston Fernandez are the other three.

From Timbers.com:

“This is player we tried to sign several years ago while he was at Belgrano and have followed him very closely ever since,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Timbers. “The process in bringing him to Portland has been a lengthy and challenging one, as he was targeted by several European and Mexican clubs. We believe Lucas is a player that will suit the style and system, will make us better immediately and will be an asset to the club for the future.”

Shortly after joining the club, Melano helped Lanús win the 2013 Copa Sudamericana title, appearing in nine matches and scoring three goals during the cup competition, while finishing tied for fourth among all players in goal scoring during the tournament.

“Melano is a player we’ve had our eye on for some time and we are extremely pleased to finally announce his addition,” said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. “Lucas is a very exciting, dynamic player with pace and individual game-changing ability. His versatility to be able to play any of the front four positions in our system also gives us flexibility to mesh him with our other quality pieces. We feel confident Lucas will make an immediate impact on our goal production this season but will also continue to grow with the club and be a key fixture in MLS for years to come.”

Will this move be a boon to Portland? Hard to say, but the Timbers have gained six points of safety in the race for a playoff spot. But in terms of a relative unknown, will Melano be more Octavio Rivero or Luis Angel Landin?

Well, he did once score a pair of goals in rather quick succession: