Nat Borchers

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Nat Borchers retires after 14-year career

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35-year-old defender Nat Borchers has announced his retirement after a 14-year career that was spent almost entirely in the United States.

The Arizona-born bearded one came through Colorado as a youth, and spent two seasons with the Colorado Rapids before trying his luck in Norway. He returned to the United States after a 46 appearances for Norweigan side Odd Grenland and went on to spend seven years with Real Salt Lake and another two with Portland.

Borchers won MLS Cups in both 2009 and 2015, most recently partnering with English defender Liam Ridgewell to lead Portland to its first MLS Cup. He made 340 league appearances in the United States, one of just 14 players in MLS history to do so, starting 339 of those 340 appearances.

Borchers ruptured his Achillies tendon in July of last season, ending his campaign and likely leading to his decision to hang ’em up.

“I have given the game everything and will step away extremely grateful to have played 14 professional seasons. While this decision was tremendously difficult, I am proud of my contribution to this chapter of Major League Soccer,” Borchers said in a statement. “I played for three well-respected MLS clubs, experienced playing abroad, and made some incredible relationships. To be a professional athlete is a privilege, but I didn’t get here alone. Thank you to my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and fans for their support throughout my career. I am excited for the future challenges that await.”

The Timbers announced they will honor Borchers during a March league game.

Borchers ruptures achilles tendon, leaving Timbers without best back

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FOX analyst Stu Holden said it right after it happened, and it’s true: Nat Borchers has torn his achilles tendon and is out for the season.

The Portland Timbers back with the big burly beard was injured late in the first half, and had to be stretchered off the pitch. Amobi Okugo took his place for the rest of the match, which finished 2-1 to the Galaxy.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

It’s a big blow for the Timbers, whose regular season struggles are an annual occurrence. The 2015 MLS Champions are currently in the West’s seventh position, and Borchers has been one of their best players in each of the last two seasons.

Borchers is 35, and in his second season with the Oregon set after 211 appearances for Real Salt Lake.

The achilles is a brutal injury to return from at any age. Whenever, he’s done Borchers will exit MLS in the select company of winning an MLS Cup for at least two different teams in separate decades (2009-RSL, 2015-PDX).

MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Portland Timbers (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers were on their way to taking a massive three points away to their Cascadia Cup rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps, before a pair of goalkeeper gaffes by Jake Gleeson unwound a perfectly good road performance in the span of six second-half minutes (the 25-year-old was otherwise solid, making 11 total saves on 13 shots on target). Fanendo Adi, Darlington Nagbe and Nat Borchers connected to open the scoring for the Timbers just past the half-hour mark, but Masato Kudo bagged his first MLS goal right on 60 minutes, with Gleeson whiffing on the near-post shot, followed by an otherworldly blunder on 66 minutes that ushered Christian Bolaños’s harmlessly lofted ball over the goal line. The result sees the Whitecaps leapfrog their southern neighbors for seventh place in the log-jammed Western Conference. At present, three points separate the top-seven spots in the West.

[ MORE: Previewing the weekend in MLS ]

Three moments that mattered

34′ — Borchers bundles it home from Nagbe’s shot/cross — Nagbe might have been shooting, and he might have been passing, but he’ll take the assist either way.

60′ — Kudo’s first MLS goal is the equalizer — For all of Gleeson’s heroics last week, getting beat at the near post right here is a might awful look.

66′ — Gleeson’s epic gaffe makes it 2-1 — Speaking of shocking mistakes that’ll rock the confidence of a young goalkeeper…

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Man of the match: Masato Kudo

Goalscorers: Borchers (34′), Kudo (60′), Bolaños (66′)

MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 1-1 Portland Timbers (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Are the LA Galaxy good? We’re five games into the 2016 MLS season, and I’ve still no idea whether to expect them to win the Supporters’ Shield, or to miss the MLS Cup Playoffs altogether. Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the defending champion Portland Timbers provided more additional questions than answers. A few examples: Robbie Keane is going to be out for a while (knee surgery), what now? Is Giovani dos Santos any good at all? Why is Nigel de Jong still the absolute worst (scroll down for video of that)? Does Gyasi Zardes have a position? Like, what’s up with the midfield? Seriously, why is Nigel de Jong allowed to play soccer?

[ MORE: Recaps from Saturday’s MLS action ]

Three moments that mattered

52′ — Adi cuts inside, finishes far post for 1-0 — Through 51 minutes of action, the Timbers were yet to put a single shot on target (they had taken just two in total). In the 52nd minute, Fanendo Adi changed all of that with his fourth goal of the season.

73′ — De Jong hacks down Nagbe, potentially injures him — We all knew Darlington Nagbe would be seriously injured one day, given his league-leading number of tackles suffered since entering MLS. We all knew Nigel de Jong would seriously injure someone during his time in MLS. It was all too obvious to believe De Jong would be the one to break Nagbe. Godspeed, Darlington.

84′ — Borchers applies the diving header … into his own goal — You’ll not find many diving headers better than this one from Nat Borchers. Fortunately for the Galaxy, he put it into the wrong goal.

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

Man of the match: Fanendo Adi

Goalscorers: Adi (52′), Borchers (84′ – OG)

MLS Team of the Playoffs — Stars of MLS Cup Playoffs 2015

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That’s it. It’s all over. MLS Cup 2015 was won by the Portland Timbers on Sunday, bringing to end the 2015 Major League Soccer season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Not without one final MLS Team of the Week Playoffs, though. Unsurprisingly, this year’s Team of the Playoffs is heavy on players from the Timbers and Columbus Crew SC, Sunday’s finalists, with a few conference semifinalists sprinkled throughout.

[ MORE: Timbers top Crew SC to lift first MLS Cup trophy ]

Kei Kamara‘s four goals scored during the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs were twice as many as any other player — one of which was Portland’s Fanendo Adi. Diego Valeri bagged four assists in five games played, which is mighty impressive until you read on and realize Mauro Diaz hit the same mark in just four games played. And then there was the two-way midfield work of Diego Chara, whose work rate was otherworldly en route to Portland’s first MLS title. Throw in defenders Nat Borchers and Jorge Villafana, and it becomes clear just why Portland were crowned champions.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — MLS Cup playoffs

Goalkeeper: Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC), Nat Borchers (Portland Timbers), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Jorge Villafana (Portland Timbers)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Diego Chara (Portland Timbers), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle Sounders)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC), Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers)

MLS Forwards