By: Matt Vereen
THIS IS IT, FOLKS! The weekend we’ve all been waiting for: the MLS Cup. The matchup, as we all guessed features two teams that absolutely dominated the season: New Yo… what? What do you mean the Red Bulls didn’t make it? Well, at least FC Dallas took care of business… right? No? Wow. This is playoff for the centuries. In my opinion the matchup we are actually getting is far more intriguing. A faceoff between two clubs playing there best soccer while being supported by two of the most passionate fan bases.
In the West corner, wearing forest green with the signature vertical chevron: the Portland Timbers! In the East corner, strongly resembling a pedestrian caution sign: the Columbus Crew! These two teams have been virtually lights out since the playoffs kicked off.
Portland fought its way past Sporting KC in an 11-round, basket case of a PK shootout. The Timbers then proceeded to blank the explosive Vancouver Whitecaps over two legs to win on a 2-0 aggregate. Then they took down the top-seeded FC Dallas thanks to an impressive five goal total to win on a 5-3 aggregate. They can score, then can save… what can’t they do?
Columbus, meanwhile, probably had the most difficult playoff schedule of any team. They opened with Drogba and a Montreal Impact team that many thought would be holding the Cup once the confetti cleared, but the Crew managed to squeak by on a 4-3 aggregate. Then they avoided some jaw-dropping last second drama against the Supporters Shield winners as the Red Bulls almost netted two goals in the last few minutes of stoppage time. Luckily for Columbus, though, the ball bounced off the post and the whistle sent the Crew into the Final.
Neither of these teams found themselves on top of their respective conference tables at any point during the regular season, yet now they collide in the championship. How fitting: as the league is exploding with popularity here in the US, the Final is headed back to the past and its origins in the first ever MLS soccer-specific stadium.
Let’s jump right into some predictions. I asked what my fellow KCOU MLS writer, Zach Gee, for his prediction. He is taking the Crew in a close 2-1 win thanks to a brace from Kamara. I beg to differ. Portland has peaked at the perfect time and is playing better than they have at any point during the year. Give me the Timbers with a 2-1 win.
We’ll see who’s right on Sunday. Have a great week, folks! Don’t forget to buy some popcorn before the weekend, this is sure to be a fun matchup to watch.