Date: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
Forecast: 52 degrees, partly cloudy
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Corey Parker Fourth & Fifth Official: Chris Penso, James Conlee
National TV: ESPN
Talent: Adrian Healey (play-by-play), Taylor Twellman (analyst), Monica Gonzalez (sideline)
Spanish TV: Univision/UniMás
Talent: Jorge Perez Navarro (play-by-play), Ivan Kasanzew (analyst), Marcelo Balboa (analyst), Diego Balado (analyst)
English Radio: 750/102.9 The Game (KXTG 750AM, 102.9FM)
Talent: Keith Bleyer (play-by-play), Ross Smith (analyst)
Spanish Radio: La GranD (KGGD 93.5FM, 1150 AM)
Talent: Josue del Castillo (play-by-play), Ozkar Ramos (analyst)
Sunday’s MLS Cup between the Timbers and Columbus Crew SC marks the finale of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Portland advanced to MLS Cup for the first time in the club’s MLS history since joining the league in 2011, capturing the Western Conference Championship against FC Dallas (5-3 on aggregate). Sunday’s match will be Portland’s third road playoff game following a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas in the second leg of the conference championship on Nov. 29. Columbus reached MLS Cup after a 2-1 aggregate win against the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship. The conference No. 2-seed, Columbus advanced to the conference finals with a 3-1 win (4-3 on aggregate) in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8 against the Montreal Impact after receiving a first-round bye.
LAST MATCH RECAP
The Timbers captured the 2015 MLS Western Conference Championship, advancing to the club’s first appearance in MLS Cup with a pair of second-half goals in a 2-2 draw (5-3 win on aggregate) against FC Dallas in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship in front of 20,966 fans at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Nov. 29. Forward Fanendo Adi registered the game’s opening goal in the 54th minute with his second goal of the postseason and late-game substitute Lucas Melano became the eighth different Timbers player to score a goal in the 2015 postseason as he tallied the equalizer for Portland in the final minute of second-half stoppage time. In addition, midfielder Diego Valeri provided two assists, while midfielder Dairon Asprilla tallied his third assist of the playoffs.
LAST TIME VS. COLUMBUS
The Timbers received a brace from forward Fanendo Adi and assists from midfielders Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace and Diego Valeri to help lead Portland in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Columbus in front of 22,719 fans at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 26.
ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES
Sunday’s match marks the first time Portland and Columbus Crew SC meet in MLS postseason play and just the seventh all-time meeting across all competitions between the two clubs since 2011. The Timbers have compiled a 2-2-2 overall regular-season record against Columbus since 2011 and have registered two shutouts in six matches against Crew SC. Sunday’s match marks the second meeting of 2015 across all competitions, as Portland earned a 2-1 win against Crew SC on Sept. 26 at MAPFRE Stadium in their only regular-season meeting.
Portland is unbeaten in its last two matches (1-0-1) against Columbus as the teams also played to a 3-3 draw on May 17, 2014, at Providence Park in Portland.
Columbus Crew SC advanced to MLS Cup after defeating the New York Red Bulls with a 2-1 win on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Championship series of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. The No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Crew SC defeated the Montreal Impact 3-1 (4-3 win on aggregate) in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, to advance to the conference championship after securing a first-round bye. Columbus registered a home record of 9-4-4 during the regular season and is led by MLS Best XI forward Kei Kamara (22g, 8a) and midfielder Ethan Finlay (12g, 13a). In addition, goalkeeper Steve Clark registered 114 saves and six shut- outs during the regular season. As a team, Columbus ranked second in MLS with 58 goals, including 38 goals at home - the best home goal total in the Eastern Conference and the second best in MLS behind only the LA Galaxy (41).
REACHING THE FINAL
The 2015 Timbers join the 2013 Portland Thorns (National Women’s Soccer League), the 1975 Timbers (NASL), 1977 Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and 1916 Portland Rosebuds (PCHA – professional hockey) as Portland-based professional teams in a top division to advance to the championship game of their respective sport. Additionally, Portland is the first MLS expansion franchise from the Pacific Northwest to advance to MLS Cup.
The last time the Timbers advanced to a cup final was in the club’s inaugural season of 1975 in the North American Soccer League’s Soccer Bowl ’75. The Timbers earned a berth to the final after defeating the St. Louis Stars in the semifinals and Cascadia-rival Seattle Sounders in the quarterfinals. Portland faced the Tampa Bay Rowdies in San Jose, Calif., on Aug. 24, 1975, sustaining a 2-0 loss to end their first-ever season.
Portland enters Sunday’s MLS Cup against Columbus on an eight-match unbeaten run across all competitions, dating back to Oct. 14. Portland has earned a 5-0-3 overall record, while posting a record of 4-0-1 in its last five matches on the road. Going back to Sept. 20, the Timbers have lost just two of their last 11 matches across all competitions.
The Timbers have registered a 15-7-7 (W-L-T) overall record across all competitions since a 1-0 win against D.C. United on May 27, including a mark of 4-0-1 to finish the season and capture the conference’s No. 3 seed to the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Portland put together an MLS-club record, four-game winning streak from May 27-June 20, and lost consecutive matches just once (May 16- 23) during the regular season.
Over the last three seasons, the Timbers have compiled regular-season point totals of 57 (2013), 49 (2014) and 53 (2015), reaching the postseason in two of the last three years. Over that span of time, Portland’s combined point total (159) ranks as the fourth most in MLS, behind only the New York Red Bulls (169), Seattle Sounders FC (167) and LA Galaxy (165).
Portland finished as the best team in the league when scoring the all-important opening goal this season. The Timbers registered an undefeated 14-0-2 overall record when scoring first and were just one of two teams (Houston, 10-0-4) to have never lost after scoring the opening goal. The Timbers have continued their streak in the 2015 postseason, scoring first in four of their five playoff matches, excluding a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8.
The Timbers defense finished the season tied for first in MLS with 13 clean sheets in 34 games. Over the last three seasons, Portland has registered the most shutouts (35) among all MLS teams.
Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri has assisted on four goals in four matches in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, tied for the most in the postseason. Valeri provided assists on both goals scored for the Timbers in the 2-2 draw with FC Dallas on Nov. 29, while also recording an assist in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Vancouver on Nov. 8 and in the Knockout Round against Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 29. The Argentine led Portland in assists during the regular season, registering eight in 22 games played after missing the start of the season while recovering from offseason ACL surgery.
MOST GOALS IN ALL COMPETITIONS
Forward Fanendo Adi registered his 18th goal of the season in the second-leg of the Western Conference Championship against FC Dallas, which is tied for the most goals across all competitions for a Timbers player in a season. Adi joins Peter Withe (1975), Fadi Afash (2002), McKinley Tennyson (2002) and Byron Alvarez (2004) with 18 competitive goals across all competitions in a single season.
Eight different players have registered goals in the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs, the most of any team in the postseason. Forward Lucas Melano recorded his first postseason goal in the 2-2 draw against FC Dallas in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 29, while forward Fanendo Adi recorded his second goal of the postseason. Defenders Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers, along with midfielder Dairon Asprilla each tallied goals in the 3-1 win against FC Dallas in the first leg of the conference championship on Nov. 22, while midfielder Diego Chara and Adi led the Timbers in a 2-0 win over Vancouver in the second leg of the conference semifinals on Nov. 8 at BC Place. In addition, midfielder Rodney Wallace and forward Maximilliano Urruti registered goals to send the Knockout Round match against Sporting Kansas City into extra time in Portland’s dramatic, penalty-kick win on Oct. 29 at Providence Park.
Midfielder Darlington Nagbe has averaged a 90.5 percent passing accuracy through the last four playoffs games, including the Western Conference Championship series against FC Dallas and conference semifinals series against Vancouver.
ON THE ROAD
The Timbers finished the 2015 regular season tied for the most road wins (7) in the league. Over the last two seasons, Portland’s 14 road wins are the most in MLS. The Timbers are unbeaten in five consecutive road matches (4-0-1), dating back to a 2-1 win on the road against Columbus Crew SC on Sept. 26. Against Columbus, the Timbers have earned two shutouts in just six meetings against Crew SC side since 2011. In the last match, Portland earned a hard-fought, 2-1 road win behind a brace from forward Fanendo Adi on Sept. 26 at MAPFRE Stadium.
TIMBERS OHIO CONNECTION
Four Timbers have connections to the state of Ohio. Portland head coach Caleb Porter was one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history in his tenure as head coach at the University of Akron (2006-12). Porter led the Zips to back-to- back NCAA College Cup appearances (2009, 2010) and the school’s first national title in any sport in 2010. Timbers midfielders Darlington Nagbe, Michael Nanchoff and Ben Zemanski were raised in Ohio and played under Porter at the University of Akron. After leaving his native Liberia, Nagbe grew up in Lakewood, Ohio and played three collegiate seasons for the Zips’, leading Akron to the NCAA championship title in 2010, winning the Hermann Trophy in the same year. A North Royalton, Ohio native, Nanchoff also played three seasons at Akron and helped the Zips win the national championship in 2010. Zemanski was born and raised in Akron, Ohio and was a four-year starter at Akron (2006-09), playing alongside Nagbe and Nanchoff in the 2009 season.
Additionally, Timbers assistant coach Cameron Knowles had a standout collegiate career at the University of Akron, where he was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference first-team selection. He led the Zips to a pair of conference championships (2002, 2004) and four straight NCAA tournament appearances (2001-04). Timbers video analyst Pablo Moreira, a native of Broadview Heights, Ohio, appeared in 65 games with the Zips, including 40 starts, and was a two- time All-Mid-American Conference team striker; earning first-team honors in 2006. He helped lead the Zips to back-to-back regular-season championships under Porter in 2006 and 2007 and league tournament titles in 2004 and 2007.
SINCE THE BEGINNING
Five players on the current roster have been with the Timbers since the club’s first year in MLS in 2011. Midfielders Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, Rodney Wallace and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson are all original members of the Timbers’ first MLS squad in 2011. Earlier this season, Nagbe moved into a tie at the top of the list of all-time career appearances (160) for the Timbers across all eras. Additionally, all five players have seen time for Portland during the team’s run to MLS Cup.
The Timbers roster features 145 combined games of MLS Cup Playoff experience with defender Nat Borchers (28 appearances) leading the way. Midfielder Will Johnson (19) is second, while midfielder Jack Jewsbury (18) ranks third in career postseason appearances. Borchers and Johnson helped Real Salt Lake win the 2009 MLS Cup in penalty kicks against the LA Galaxy, while Borchers also helped guide Real Salt Lake to the 2013 MLS Cup as RSL lost on penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City. Jewsbury started and played 66 minutes for the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) in the 2004 MLS Cup as Kansas City lost 3-2 against D.C. United.
TIMBERS 5/40 ANNIVERSARY
The Timbers are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a club and fifth year as a member of MLS in 2015. Portland spent eight seasons in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1975-82, reaching the postseason three times, including the run to Soccer Bowl ’75. In 2001, the reborn Timbers began play as a second-division side in USL, qualifying for the postseason in seven of their 10 seasons, winning the Commissioner’s Cup with the best regular-season record in 2004 and 2009. Portland joined MLS in 2011 and in just three seasons made their first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs appearance in 2013, advancing to the Western Conference Championship series against Real Salt Lake. For the second time in the last three seasons, the Timbers reached the conference championship and became the first club from the Pacific Northwest to reach MLS Cup.
2015 SEASON BY THE NUMBERS
Portland concluded the 2015 season with several impressive marks in a variety of categories. The Timbers racked up an MLS-club record mark with 15 wins, while tying for the league lead in shutouts (13). Portland finished with the league lead in both chances created (477) and total shots (486), while also conceding the third-fewest goals (39) among all teams.