Most fans, of course, were perfectly amicable – and there’s a ton of mutual respect from these club’s coaches and owners. Columbus is the spiritual the home of American soccer, and it’s clearly going through something of a rebirth. But Portland, Soccer City, USA, is on a different level. They outclassed Columbus on Sunday.
5. Diego Chara is inhuman
Caleb Porter praised Chara after the game, calling him a “machine” and saying he never gets the credit he deserves.
Chara was fantastic in this game, covering oodles of ground and breaking up countless Columbus opportunities. The Timbers’ much-ballyhooed inverted 4-3-3 doesn’t work without the Columbian, who, unlike Dax McCarty in the East Final, was able to make life difficult for Higuain.
Chara, along with Jack Jewsbury, Rodney Wallace, Nagbe, and Jake Gleeson, is an original MLS Timber. In the five years I’ve watched him play, it seems he hasn’t aged a minute – and my guess is that five years from now, he’ll still be smiling, still be running, and still be on of Portland’s most best players.
6. Heartbreak for Parkhurst & Kamara
These two did all they could. Despite the goal, it was a tough afternoon for Kamara – who was starved of service and ended up flaring wide and deep to get the ball. He never got a second chance.
When these teams played in September, Parkhurst was abused by Fanendo Adi. This time, however, the Crew captain held his own against Adi and was instrumental in calming his team down after their nightmare start.
Parkhurst is now an agonizing 0 for 4 in MLS Cups, having lost in 2005, 2006, and 2007 with New England, while Kamara misses out this time after leaving Columbus in their Cup-winning season of 2008 and Sporting Kansas City in their Cup-winning season of 2013.
Both players are 31, with a lot of miles on their legs. Kamara and Parkhurst are fine men, and assets to MLS, but they might have seen MLS Cup slip through their grasp for the final time.
7. Ready from the whistle
Steve Clark sure wasn’t, but Columbus’ problems early in the game went beyond him. The Crew crumbled in the first ten minutes.
Portland, meanwhile, came out ready to fire. It was the difference in the game.
The trend continued to the substitutes. Jack McInerney looked nowhere near the pace when he was introduced in the second half. In contrast, Dairon Asprilla was immediately effective for the Timbers down the left-hand side.