MLS Cup Final – Preview


Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers – MLS Cup Preview

Sunday, December 6th, 4:00 p.m. ET. MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH.

It’s been a fantastic, thrilling season for Major League Soccer this year.  And it brings us to the more exciting events of them all.  The one we have all been waiting for since the season started in March, the “big one” is coming on Sunday.

Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready to rummmmbbbllle: the MLS Cup Final is here!!

The 2014 Major League Soccer Cup was a battle between two veteran teams: four-time MLS Champion LA Galaxy taking on four-time runner-up New England Revolution.  This year’s MLS Cup will feature two sides that have only one cup appearances between them.

Columbus Crew SC, one of the oldest clubs in Major League Soccer (since 1996) will host Portland Timbers, a relatively-new club in MLS (since 2011).

The hosts won the MLS Cup once, in 2008 against the New York Red Bulls (3-1), the Supporters’ Shield three times (2004, 08 and 09) and the US Open Cup once in 2002.

Columbus Crew finished the 2015 MLS regular season with 58 goals, with an explosive attacking front led by Kai Kamara, the Crew finished second in MLS for goals scored.

Kamara who was a candidate for the Major League Soccer MVP this year scored 22 goals in the MLS regular season and an additional 3 in the playoffs.  He will be joined by the attacking midfield consisting of Ethan Finlay (scored 13) and Federico Higuain (scored 9).

The Crew’s back suffered this season, allowing 53 conceded goals in the MLS regular season, the second-worse among all the Major League Soccer Cup Playoff teams.  However the summer signings of Harrison Afful and Gaston Suaro have started to pay off and the Columbus defense has turned a corner.  Since Gaston Suaro’s debut in October the team allowed less than a goal per game.

Being a team that is still in its inception, visitors Portland Timbers are yet to mark any appearances or wins in the said competitions.

Portland Timbers, finished the MLS Western Conference at third place with 41 goals, and conceded 39.

Although not as explosive as the Crew’s, the Timbers also have a lot of their own fire power up front, with the “Giant Nigerian” Fanendo Adi who seems to be running through every defender that comes in his path.  Adi scored 18 goals this season, and will share the scoring burden with the midfield with Darlington Negbe, Maximiliano Urruti and Nat Borchers (scored 6, 6 and 5 respectively).

The Timbers’ midfield has tenacious Diego Chara that showed his strength in a fantastic performance against FC Dallas in both legs of the MLS Western Conference.  Although Diego Valeri and Negbe have been impressive so far these playoffs, they will need to turn it up a notch in order to move the ball fast and accurate in the midfield against the Crew.

Portland Timbers are coming with an upper hand when it comes to defense, allowing only 39 goals which is the second-best in Major League Soccer this season.  The two veterans Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers, alongside Jorge Villafana and Alvas Powell – all have effective communication and chemistry that makes the Timbers’ defense a lot tighter than Columbus’s.

The teams have an all-time record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws for each side.  They last met at MAPFRE Stadium in September, where the Timbers won 2-1.