The 2015 MLS season ended Sunday night as the Portland Timbers lifted the MLS Cup trophy – the third expansion team in League history to do so. The Timbers, who came into the final unbeaten in their last 8 matches, defeated hosts Columbus Crew 2-1. The first goal, scored in the first minute made history as the fastest goal scored in an MLS Cup Final.
Player of the Match
Forward Diego Valeri forced an serious error by Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark giving the Timbers the early lead as Valeri’s block of Clark’s attempted pass went straight into the net. The Argentine went on to create a second big chance for the Timbers for a total of two, and he had a pass completion rate in the final third of 75% percent (12 out of 16 passes).
After scoring 22 goals in the regular season, tied for the most in the League, and three more during Columbus’ playoff run, Kei Kamara was mostly kept quiet at Mapfre Stadium. The Sierra Leone international had the fewest touches of all players on the pitch for 90 minutes, including the goalkeepers. Though he was generally underwhelming, one of those touches was his 18th minute goal to put Columbus on the board after Timbers keeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey returned Clark’s favor failing to clear a cross.
As seen in the offense visualization, the Timbers had most opportunities concentrated within the 18-yard box – all but two of their 12 shots were from inside the area and they were generally higher quality chances. Conversely, Columbus was forced to shoot from outside the box. Six of the Crew’s nine shots were outside the box and were lower quality chances, as represented by the comparably smaller dot size.
Both teams did well to limit the opportunities of the opposition, but the Portland defense was busier. Diego Chara, rightfully praised by his coach Caleb Porter following the win, led the match with 30 successful defensive actions. The Crew threatened often, but Portland successfully defended most attacks, with these defensive actions represented in the defense graphic by the grey squares.
In the above graphic showing where each team’s possessions ended, notice the high concentration of yellow dots in Columbus’ attacking third – proof that Portland spent a significant amount of time containing the Columbus attack. The Crew had 729 touches to the Timbers’ 535, but the Timbers made sure to stop the bulk of Crew attacks before they turned into chances at goal. Two early goals and a strong sent the Timers home to Portland as Champions.
Originally published on Univision Deportes at: http://www.univision.com/deportes/futbol/mls/timbers-absorben-el-ataque-del-crew-ganan-la-primera-copa-mls-para-portland