One More Chance to Shine For Portland And ColumbusWith Berhalter and Porter at the helm of their teams, both Crew SC and Timbers are ready for the MLS Cup Final
by Katherine Rupp | Thursday, December 03, 2015
One more game. One more chance to shine in the 2015 MLS season. And this time, after defeating FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls respectively, the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew SC will be playing at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus for the MLS Cup final on Sunday, December 6th.
With how Crew SC played during the Conference Finals against the New York Red Bulls, it was clear that the team was serious about heading to the final match of the season. Although there was a clear-cut formation for the Red Bulls, when it came to Columbus, something in the Red Bulls team switched and was unable to counter what Crew SC brought on the day – or two days for the home and away Conference Final.
On the other hand, Portland, although not a cake walk, took FC Dallas to task as the Timbers were able to bring about their style of play – which many call ‘Porterball’ – to eventually get to the MLS Cup.
With a trophy on the line, it looks like both teams will come to play. Getting to the Final took a little bit of team growth and tenacity (especially in the Knockout Round in the West with Portland going toe-to-toe against Sporting KC), but also being able to own each respective team’s styles.
It’s a tough call on which team will win: Columbus or Portland. It’s a tough call on which coach, as well, will lead their team to hoist the trophy. Although Gregg Berhalter, head coach for Columbus Crew SC, has not won the trophy as coach of an MLS team, he was on the MLS Cup-winning team when the LA Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in 2011. On the other hand, Caleb Porter, who won the MLS Coach of the Year in 2013, only played professionally for 11 games between the San Jose Clash and the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Although his MLS career was short, Porter went on to have a successful coaching career at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he brought the Akron Zips to the postseason six out of the seven years he coached. So although neither young coaches has won the MLS Cup, both Berhalter and Porter are more than qualified to their first coaching win.
To close out the 20th season of Major League Soccer, the matchup between Columbus and Portland in Columbus should be a solid game with two teams that play their own styles and have the ability to show that character. Additionally, Columbus and Portland are the two smallest markets by population size (besides Salt Lake City and Real Salt Lake being the smallest); so even though the television ratings will be far less than stellar (especially if one of the two New York teams played LA Galaxy in the Final with the two biggest population sizes and television markets), considering how the Conference Finals played out, this’ll be a great MLS Cup Final.