The Crew couldn’t put crosses in dangerous positions, and, despite having a ton of possession, never made the game uncomfortable for Borchers or Liam Ridgewell. Columbus didn’t lose because of a blown call. They got beaten – handily – by a better team on one of their poorer days.
3. The Timbers won out wide
There weren’t many places where the Crew had clear personnel advantages over the Timbers, but they figured they might be able to find some joy wide.
And that was going to be important. Columbus had been one of the league’s best teams on crosses all season. But in this game, they got dominated out wide by, quite possibly, the five least-heralded Timbers on the field.
Villafaña against Finley was a mismatch, and it was the MLS Best XI selection that got dominated. Finley often looks ordinary against top-class competition, and that’s exactly what Villafaña is. There will be a huge market for his services this winter, and he should get a look from Jurgen Klinsmann in January.
Alvas Powell is still erratic, but he too did a nice job on the likes of Meram. The Columbus fullbacks were particularly disappointing themselves. Neither Harrison Afful or Waylon Francis were able to distinguish themselves like they did against New York.
Further up the field, Portland’s wingers all pitched in. Wallace provided his usual industry, Lucas Melano played one of the better defensive games of his MLS career, and Dairon Asprilla was bright off the bench.
What happened after the non-call on the sideline on the game-winner said it all: Wallace lost Afful on the back post, and Melano picked him out.
4. Mismatch in the stands
The effort by the Timbers Army in the week leading up to the game was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The group sold out its allotment of 900 tickets four minutes after it went on sale last Monday morning. All told, there were some 2,000 Timbers fans in Columbus for the match.
All week, the Army coordinated with those fans, bars, and both clubs to set up raffles, meet-ups, a tailgate, and rides from every airport across the Midwest to the capital of Ohio. Timber Joey’s log made the trip from Oregon, as did a specially chartered Alaska Airlines flight full of fans.
The Army was deafening during the game, and could be continually heard over the Columbus fans.
The Nordecke, meanwhile, disgraced themselves by throwing cans and bottles at Timbers players after their second goal, while Valeri was grabbed by fans by fans on the opposite end of the field while trying to take a corner late in the match.