If a ‘Crew’ falls in the woods, and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound?
Perhaps this is a strange question, but the Columbus Crew have some questions of their own to answer following a couple strange goals during Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at home in the MLS Cup Championship. Unfortunately for the higher seeded black and yellow squad, both the team and second year head coach, Gregg Berhalter, were short on answers during and after the match. For starters, there really was no answer as to why the Crew went down a goal within the first minute of play and struggled to catch up for the next 89 minutes.
“In professional sports you play until the ball is either out of bounds or there’s a whistle,” said Berhalter when asked what happened in the first minute of play as the Crew’s keeper seemingly blanked on what to do with the ball at his feet. Steve Clark completely misjudged his first touch while attempting to clear the ball and found his kick deflected into the goal by Portland’s midfielder, Diego Valeri.
“I think you could see a little bit of nerves,” Beerhalther continued. “Steve gets thousands of balls played to him and you rarely see a mistake like that.”
Click here to watch Portland’s record-setting goal. on Sunday, December 6, 2015
Portland would score again, just 7 minutes later to go up 2-0. The Crew managed to get one back at the end of the first half thanks to their star striker, Kei Kamara. However, this closed out the scoring for the night and the match ended at 2-1 Portland.
“Unfortunately we came up short in the end but give Portland a lot of credit for the way they played,” said Beerhalter. “…I think we could have been more methodical on getting the ball to the flanks and penetrating. We didn’t do that effectively.”
This seemed to be a major problem for the offensive-minded Crew throughout the game. While the Timbers built a lot of their offense from the back, and slowly advanced the entire team forward, the Crew sent far too many long balls straight up the middle in hopes of finding Kamara available for another one of his magical goals in the air.
Immediately following the match, Portland’s 3rd year coach, Caleb Porter praised the Crew for both their play and the atmosphere provided by the fans in Columbus. But he was also quick to point out his club’s accomplishment.
I want to tip my hat to Greg Berhalther and to their fans. But I really just heard our fans all game…they can walk around with their chest out proud knowing the amazing support given to us this season.
The Timbers certainly have a lot to be proud of after this win. Not only are they the MLS Cup Champions, but Portland is only the third MLS expansion team to win (Chicago Fire, 1998; Real Salt Lake 2009). They are also the first of the Cascadia teams to do so. This includes three teams from the Pacific Northwest – the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Portland’s success is a bright spot for both the region and the league in general. However, the championship match came down to two goals that perhaps should have, or at least could have been easily avoided. Even Portland’s second goal came after several players appeared to give up, or at least slow down, after seeing the ball nearly a yard out of bounds.
Perhaps it was a little bit of luck that on the part of Portland, combined with a little bad luck for the Crew, that gave the Timbers their first MLS Cup Trophy. Coach Porter didn’t see it that way. In fact, when asked if he envisioned something like this before his response was filled with confidence.
You never win something like this unless you believe. Unless you expect it. It just doesn’t happen and I think you saw that belief from this team.
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