Portland celebrates MLS Cup with 2-1 win over Columbus
March 6, 2016 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND -The Portland Timbers gave their fans the best possible start to the 2016 MLS season Sunday at Providence Park - a win before a raucous home crowd.
Diego Valeri scored in the 23rd minute in front of the Timbers Army, and Fanendo Adi scored in the 79th minute to give Portland a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew in a rematch of the MLS Cup final from December.
Portland celebrated it's 2015 Cup win prior to the game in several ways, then beat its opponent from the final by the same score - this time before a home crowd of 21,144.
"To see the banner of winning the 2015 (MLS Cup), that was amazing," Adi said afterward. "I think that emotion took us into the game, and we did well."
"It was a very important game for us, special," Valeri said. "The first one after the MLS Trophy, and we wanted to give the (win) three points to our fans. And, we did it."
Portland remained unbeaten in home openers in its sixth season in MLS.
The Crew actually held a number of statistical advantages from the match, including more passes, better passing accuracy and holding possession for more than 60 percent of the match. But, the Timbers won 50 of the 83 physical duels and turned them into 20 shots, eight of which were on target causing Columbus keeper Steve Clark to make six saves.
Portland keeper Adam Kwarasey made three saves.
Valeri's goal came off a free kick from 25 yards away on the left side. The right-footed kick cleared the Columbus wall and then curled into the near post to spark a celebration among a crowd that had been revved up for more than an hour of pre-game hype.
Portland continually pressured Clark with shots and had a pair of goals waived off for offsides and an inadvertent handball.
The tone of the game changed early in the second half and Federico Higuain scored on a bicycle kick in the 68th minute to tie the score.
Portland survived a strong series of action by the Crew directly following the goal, and Dairon Asprilla set of the winning goal with a drive up the left side that finished in a cross. After a couple touches, Adi jumped on the ball and slid the ball past Clark for the final score.
Columbus narrowly missed tying the game moments later when Higuain beat Kwarasey to his right, but the shot hit the post and bounced high and away from direct advantage.
Portland finished with a 20-19 edge in shots.
The Timbers continue their 34-game regular-season schedule at San Jose Sunday.
Adi scores to lead Portland to 2-1 road victory at Columbus
Sept. 26, 2015 / MLS Media
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fanendo Adi bested Kei Kamara in a battle of physical target men as the Portland Timbers earned a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC in front of a packed house in Columbus.
Adi’s two goals were enough to best Columbus, who missed multiple chances to equalize after Kamara’s league-leading 22nd goal of the season.
A match that promised to be entertaining delivered in the first half with a back-and-forth affair. Playmakers from both squads had chances early on, as the likes of Kamara, Ethan Fnlay, Diego Valeri, and Darlington Nagbe all created danger in the opening minutes.
Crew SC escaped a very early deficit when a sliding Wil Trapp tackle brought Nagbe down in the Columbus box. Nagbe looked stunned to not hear a whistle, but referee Silviu Petrescu waved play on.
In the 27th minute, Waylon Francis lofted a perfect cross for Kamara, who put an open header over the bar. Just a minute later, Portland capitalized.
With a piece of magic, Nagbe scooped a pass between Crew SC defenders, finding a streaking Adi, who powered a shot past a helpless Steve Clark for the match opener.
The league’s leading scorer had a bit of brilliance of his own, as Kamara pulled Columbus level just before the half with a perfectly placed header into the bottom corner from a corner kick.
The strike gave Kamara 22 goals in 2014, just five away from the league’s all-time mark and four away from the most in Crew SC history. It also raised the amount of MLS clubs he has scored against to 21, as he now has goals against each of the current active teams and the now-defunct Chivas USA.
After halftime, during which Columbus celebrated the unveiling of the top moments in club history with celebrity guests like Brian McBride and Brad Freidel, Portland wasted little time regaining the lead.
As fullback Harrison Afful streaked down, a Portland break isolated Michael Parkhurst on Rodney Wallace. The center back couldn’t keep up, and the winger slid a cross to Adi, who calmly placed the point-blank shot in the opposite corner in the 50th minute for the winner.
Crew SC looked to have equalized in the 64th minute through Ethan Finlay, but the goal was disallowed much to the frustration and anger of the hosts.
The much-needed three points for the Timbers (12-10-8) buoyed the club’s playoff chances, bringing them to 44 points on the season, four ahead of seventh-placed San Jose. They next host Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 3.