The Portland Timbers are your 2015 Audi MLS Cup Champions. A well fought battle in front of a hostile crowd worked well in their favor as they defeated the Columbus Crew SC by a score of 2-1 on goals from Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace. With this win now, half of the teams in MLS have won at least one MLS Cup. Congratulations to the Timbers.
The Timbers were able to get out to the best of starts when Valeri scored less than 30 seconds into the game after a goalkeeping error from Steve Clark. The goalkeeper dallied on the ball in his own box, and Valeri knicked the ball right off his foot and sent it into the back of the net. Portland stayed on the front foot, and just six minutes later doubled their advantage when Rodney Wallace was able to convert a cross from Lucas Melano with a header to put the Timbers up 2-0 in the first half. It was a contentious goal as the ball had run out of play in the build-up but the referees failed to spot it. The Crew stopped playing while Portland didn't, and it paid off for them. Columbus looked shellshocked.
Columbus was able to pull a goal back in the 17th minute when striker Kei Kamara slotted home a shot past Adam Kwarasey after the keeper made a howler in his own area. The Crew showed a hunger for more goals, but were denied on multiple opportunities. In the 27th minute, Columbus came close to equalizing when Kamara slid in a cross through the six yard box. However, midfielder Ethan Finlay received a back pass, after coming back from an offside position.
The game saw its first yellow card in the 35th minute when Harrison Afful tackled Diego Chara. It seemed to be retaliation after Chara had appeared to take down Kamara. Referee Jair Marrufo let it go. Columbus slightly improved with their ball handling, but once again, can't seem to find the back of the net.
Columbus had a chance near the end of the half when Afful sent in a cross to Kamara, but Kwarasey was there to snag it away from danger. With one minute of added time played, the halftime whistle blew and the Timbers went into the locker room leading the home team by a sscore of 2-1.
The second half started with Columbus attacking towards their passionate fans. Right away, the Crew were gifted a free kick when Chara tackled midfielder Wil Trapp. The ensuing free kick resulted in a save from Kwarasey. The Crew almost equalized, but winger Justin Meram was beat off the ball. The urge for an equalizer, was vital for Crew SC, and they continued to attack.
In the 53rd minute, defender Michael Parkhurst came up with a big time block to keep the score at 2-1. Portland was able to advance when Lucas Melano squeezed his was past defenders, and slid the ball to an open Fanendo Adi, who took the shot right into goalkeeper Steve Clark's hands.
The first substitution for the Timbers came in the 59th minute, when Dairon Asprilla replaced Lucas Melano. That sub quickly made an impact, and the Timbers were on the attack. Controversy arose on the insuing corner, as Timbers players pleaded that the ball went over the line during a scrum in the box. Crew SC were able to clear the ball away from danger, but replays showed that Parkhurst had kept the ball out of the goal by using his arm.
Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay made way for, arguably one the best midfielders to come off of any bench, Cedrick Mabwati. Instantly, he makes an impact with his speed and agility to almost equalized the game.
In the 65th minute, Justin Meram was on the attack, when he was brought down hard by Alvas Powell of the Timbers. The free kick almost had enough from Higuain, but the ball just hit the top of the net.
Portland nearly found a second goal moments later when an Adi header hit the post, then bounced off the chest of Clark and out for a corner. The corner kick was cleared out and Columbus was able to make their second substitution of the game. Midfielder Tony Tchani made way for forward Jack McInerney.
Although Columbus may have handled the ball more than the Timbers in the second half, they were unable to find the back of the net. On multiple occasions, chances were wasted, or they were beat off of the ball accordingly. The 77th minute changed just drastically in Portlands' favor, when Higuain lifted the ball over a defender, but McInerney wasn't able to put it away. The Crew's third and final substitution came in the 79th minute with Mohammed Saeid coming in for Meram in one final throw of the dice.
Portland came inches from goal twice, but goalkeeper Steve Clark came up with two big saves to keep his team in the game. Columbus needed that to fuel the fire in the attack. The 83rd minute saw a huge chance after Mabwati nutmegged his defender. Afterwads, a cross was centered towards Kamara, but Kwarasey made the save. That was the last chance of any note for Columbus.
The game ended the way it started, and the Portland Timbers are your 2015 Audi MLS Cup Champions.