Quotes & Notes | Columbus Crew SC 1, Portland Timbers 2 | 2015 MLS Cup

MLS CUP POST-GAME QUOTESHEET

Portland Timbers Quotes

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter

On giving the city of Portland a championship:
“It’s a great feeling, great feeling. All I could think about was sharing that moment with my players; we have been through a long season. We have been together through highs and lows and they deserve all the credit, they are the ones playing the game inside of the lines and they had belief. I don’t think it has fully sunk in completely yet. Good teams, when they make a run like this, they are so locked in, laser focus that there’s a next game. I don’t think it has sunk in yet that there is no next game, we are raising the trophy and we are the best team in MLS this year.”

On Portland making its own luck:
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a lot of winning teams in college. I played at Indiana University and I coached there. You want to talk about a culture of winning, where there’s belief, where you take the field not hoping to win, but expecting to win. Even though it is not the pros, I owe a lot of credit to Jerry Yeagley at Indiana, because he got me into this business and he taught me how to put together a culture, put together a winning team and build a locker room. It is the tactics, but winning for me comes down to the psychology. It comes down to the team and the players taking ownership. It is fitting that we win this MLS Cup trophy on this field, this was the last championship that he won on this field and I shared that with him. I think it is really fitting.”

On what he can take away from his team’s journey to the MLS Cup Championship:
“A lot has been made of it not being smooth, but I think that is MLS. Every team goes through rough patches and that’s a big part of succeeding in this league. You have to survive and you have to keep the guys together and the locker room together. You build your locker room with character guys, guys that bring intangible qualities. So we had some rough patches, but I believe over the last three years, we have the least losses, most shutouts and we were the only team that has never lost more than two games in a row, so we’ve been very steady. We haven’t always gone on long winning streaks, but when we do lose, we respond and get big wins and that’s what we did this year, every time I think people thought that we were down and out, we pop up with a big result, the players deserve credit for that, that shows their character. We knew that if we could get hot and start scoring goals that we had a very strong mentality in this team and we had a good defensive backbone this year and I wasn’t worried about the goals because I knew that we were capable of scoring goals. We showed that in 2013 and 2014, we had the shots, all the evidence was there. It just took a game like LA where we opened the floodgates and built some confidence and we never looked back.”

On if he expected to win a trophy this early into his MLS coaching career:
“That was the vision. That’s one of the reasons that I left Akron. I left the stability and security of college soccer, I had a big contract and everybody was happy, but I wanted to come do something that has never been done. I saw a sleeping giant here in Portland, I saw the fan base, the infrastructure and that was why I jumped off the cliff and left. I do have to credit guys like Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid. They paved the way for guys like me. They cut their teeth in college soccer, they learned their trade there and that’s me as well. Seeing them make the move to MLS and succeed and win MLS Cup trophies was inspiring to me. It gave me the belief that I could do something similar. Did I think it would happen in three years? I think you always believe. You never win something like this unless you believe, unless you expect it. It doesn’t just happen. I think you saw true belief in this team every single game in the playoffs. That we weren’t just happy to be in it we actually believe that we would win it.”

On the importance of Diego Chara in their formation:
“It’s everybody. Like I said a lot of times this week, we don’t have a guy that’s voted in the top XI, we don’t have a guy in the MLS All-Star Game but when you go around every position, we have a good player in every position and that’s why it works. We don’t have any weaknesses; we’re a complete team on both sides of the ball. The way we defended in that second half, I know personally, 2 or 3 years ago, that’s a club I didn’t have in my bag. To be able to not just absorb and be up against it, but do it comfortably. We were never in danger, we were comfortable, we were tight, and that’s what the game called for in the second half. We invited them forward, we could’ve been a bit better on the counters, and we had some good moments to put the game away. Could have been a little more clinical there but we saw the game out. We shut it down and that’s a part of winning. In MLS certainly you’re going to have to do that at times, whether it’s on the road or against one of the super power teams that have talent. Diego Chara, he doesn’t get enough credit. And I’m not trying to make this press conference about getting credit, you earn credit. I’ve learned that, you have to earn it. There’s no sense talking about how we don’t get this or that, you just got to get the job done and eventually you get what you deserve and you get the credit. Diego Chara certainly is a machine. Modern midfielder, I can’t count how many plays he made to stop counters, to win balls. He’s a very, very good midfielder.”

On Jorge Villafaña against Ethan Finlay:
“Finlay’s a great player, dangerous. I like the way he plays, he’s fearless. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think that’s what motivates him. I knew earlier in the week that I didn’t have to say a word to Jorge. That was great for me because I knew he read articles and I didn’t have to say a word to him all week because I knew he’d be really up for it. He’s a competitive kid, Jorge. If you challenge him, he’s going to step up even more and I thought he was exceptional today. He has been all year.”

On how the loss against Real Salt Lake two years ago motivated Portland for this match:
“Well, I believe there’s no failure, there’s just feedback. And if you’re a growth mindset person then you take the feedback, and you learn from it and you get better. It doesn’t mean you tell everybody about what you’re learning and tell everybody that you failed at your game. I don’t think you have to do that, but privately and internally in this locker room we have a group that looks at ourselves in the mirror and if it’s not working, they’re honest, I’m honest – we change it and correct and we’re not naïve. Like I said, we’re humble and we know what we need to do to win games and you saw that today.”

On if getting the early goal was a sign of destiny for the Portland Timbers:
“You know it’s interesting. I had a poster on my wall when I was very young that said, ‘some succeed because they’re destined to, but most succeed because they’re determined to.’ So I don’t know if destiny is real or not, I do believe in some higher power. I can’t say I’m religious but I’m spiritual and I think things seem to work out. In my career that’s certainly been the case, but I’ve had a lot of lows. I’ve had some bitter disappointments that could’ve derailed me. You know there are times when you question how did that happen, but I think really what it is, it’s just football. It’s a very cruel sport, but if you do things right eventually it turns, it always turns. I believe that. Go back to Coach [Jerry] Yeagley, he would always say that his best teams never won a championship but other teams did, so I think that’s kind of the way the game has worked out for me as well and my career and I’m sure Diego would say the same thing. Sometimes you get cruel times and you think it’s not fair but then there are other times where it evens out and if you look at this season that was probably the case. There were some games this year we should’ve won. We were dominant in a lot of games this year and I kept saying it and probably bothering people but it was because it was real. We were playing really well and not winning. And then there are some games down the stretch where you think, ‘I thought we should’ve lost.’ So that’s where it evens out because you’re doing the right things and you earn it, so I think it’s more about earning the right to do this type of thing.”

On if it’s possible to be both pragmatic and make a tactical switch, and if the championship would not have been won without the tactical switch:
“That’s a great question. I don’t really want to take the credit for making great tactical moves to help my team win. I want to give credit to the guys because ultimately, probably if I didn’t make the move, I personally think maybe we still win because when your team’s hungry enough sometimes coaches get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes players bail out coaches and win games even when they get it wrong, so it’s all about the guys. The guys got it done. We saw Darlington [Nagbe] today, he didn’t have a lot going forward today but again what he did defensively to win the game. Even late I can remember two or three plays where he tracked guys back, he was exhausted and for him to want to put that work in defensively, the first goal came from Valeri pressing, defending’s not his strength always and he wants to win. When guys want to win I think it just comes down to that. When guys really want to win, I think the big thing is when they want to win together. One of our consistent mantras pregame was simple, you have to fight for your mates, fight for the guys next to you. That’s easier said than done, everybody says that, the rah-rah, but really doing it is another story. So I’m proud of the second half because the game called for us to play the low block, whether we want to or not, Columbus is going to push. So I think in trying to involve myself that was the goal. When the game calls for that, you have to be able to do it and get your guys to do it comfortably and my teams have never been able to do that. So I’m pleased that we were able to do that when the game called for it and then use the counter attack. I felt we we’re excellent on the break even though we weren’t able to get the third goal.”

MLS Cup MVP and Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On capitalizing by scoring early:
“We knew that they take risks to play. That’s their way. We knew that the aggressiveness in the first 20 minutes from us had to be there. We tried to press them, because most of the situations that they create come from their backline. So, we tried to press to be aggressive and it was strange, but it was about the aggressiveness and the pressure that we put on their backline.”

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey
On what it feels like to hoist the MLS Cup:
“It’s just amazing. I can’t describe it right now. It’s so fresh, the adrenaline is high and you see the energy in this room right now. We just played a 90-minute game. I’m sure all of the guys are tired but they’re still able to enjoy this. Unbelievable.”

On Jorge Villafana’s performance on the left flank:
“He was as good as he’s been all year. He’s one of our best players. He’s consistent, always 100 percent. There’s no winger in this league that can play with Jorge. Jorge is, I would say, one of the best fullbacks in the league, and he doesn’t get too much credit for it but we rate him high on our team. I think he’s played every single game this season and not one bad game. So I wish we could have Jorge here forever. He’s a good person as well. So yeah, he did well today.”

Portland Timbers Defender Nat Borchers
On his message to the fans in Portland:
“Thank you so much. What a pleasure to play for such a fantastic, vocal, passionate group of supporters in Portland. We’re so proud to be a part of that because they really help us get that extra 1 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent that we need to get the win.”

On how winning the MLS Cup reflects the team’s work ethic:
“Absolutely, what a fantastic cup to bring back to Portland. Like I said, I’m just proud to be a part of this group and I think that we’re going to win some more championships with this group.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe
On winning MLS Cup:
“It means a lot. I feel like it’s the only group of guys you see on a daily basis, whether it’s at training or out of training. They are your best friends. They are who you have when you are away from home. It’s your home away from home. So being able to win it with this group of guys and you know the players I’ve been with [Diego] Chara, Jack [Jewsbury] and all these guys it’s been fun, it’s been an amazing ride. It means a lot. It means a lot being here from the beginning and all of the ups and downs we went through in the five years and even this season. It means a lot to bring a trophy back to Portland.”

Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell
On the match:
“We wanted to press and we wanted to try and dominate. And put our game on them and from the get go we certainly did. We certainly defended for a lot of the game after that but we really deserved it.”

On getting the win:
“We fully deserved the win today and really enjoyed it. Whole heartedly it’s been a fantastic season. We certainly had our backs to the wall and defended well. It was a great feeling.”

On the importance of defending and getting shutouts:
“Really important, certainly for myself. I’m always harping on defending and trying to keep a clean sheet. People might get it bit bored of it but I think this season we certainly showed it.”

Columbus Crew SC Quotes

Columbus Crew SC Sporting Director and head coach Gregg Berhalter
On Kei Kamara’s fitness in the match:
“I think after training yesterday, when we spoke, I didn’t have a chance to assess the injury. So, I think it was made to be more than it was. He got stepped on and he got a bruise. It was a severe bruise but he’s not going to let something like that stop him from playing. He was ready to go.”

On his view of the potential out of bounds ball before the second Portland Timbers goal:
“I didn’t see it. I have absolutely no idea what happened. But, what I would say is in professional sports you play until either the ball is out of bounds or there’s a whistle and we have to keep playing. But, from my viewpoint I couldn’t see a thing.”

On if Crew SC was caught off guard with the two first-half Portland goals:
“I think you could see a little bit of nerves. Steve [Clark] gets hundreds of balls, thousands of balls played to him during the course of the season and he rarely makes a mistake like that and you have to live with it. We support him and mistakes are part of the game. The start wasn’t good; the start was certainly not good. What I am pleased about is that we didn’t give up. After we settled in we kept pushing and kept pushing, we saw a lot of determination and effort from the guys to get back in this game.”

On if the result was only based on the way that they played:
“That’s always a difficult question because the result is what the result is. What I would say is that we put a lot of effort into the game, we pushed the tempo and tried to attack them but they played a very good game, they really did. Defensively very solid, some decent counter attacks and when you’re up 2-0 it becomes a different game and they managed it pretty well.”

On how tough this result was at home, in Columbus:
“It’s difficult. Obviously we wanted to bring a championship to this city and we wanted them to see it first hand in our stadium and it’s disappointing. But, congratulations to Portland, they have some very good fans as well, they played a good game and they won the championship. We’ll be back though, this team will be back.”

On if there was anything Portland did that surprised him:
“They’re a good team. They are good on set pieces; they created a lot of opportunities on set pieces, they have a big striker who is good and they’re up early in the game. They defend well collectively. I don’t think that there was too much that surprised us but give them a lot of credit. They executed and they played a good game.”

On the atmosphere of the game and what it brought to the city of Columbus:
“I’m proud of Columbus. I think Columbus put on an excellent show and I think the atmosphere was amazing. I’ve played in U.S. vs. Mexico games before and this is right up there with an intense atmosphere. I’m sorry to the people of Columbus that we couldn’t bring them a championship. We couldn’t bring them that trophy but they deserve it. The support we have gotten over the last month has been amazing. So, I thank the people, I thank the city for getting behind us.”

Columbus Crew SC forward Kei Kamara
On MLS Cup:
“Unfortunately, we did not lift up that trophy tonight, we did that to New York here with the early goal and it kind of gets you going. It did that to us tonight and it was tough but there is not much you can really say about that. They got all three points and they got the trophy today.”

On if his injury was a factor:
“It was but again it was coming out here, that right when the whistle blew and right when I step off of that field, the fans were going to inject energy in me and not to worry about it. To be honest I didn’t really worry about it at all, I mean now you kind of feel sore but there was nothing that was going to stop me. Even if the doctors tried to stop me to play tonight, it wasn’t going to stop me.”

Columbus Crew SC Midfielder Ethan Finlay
On if he believes that the best team won:
“I think, on the night, their game plan, they executed better than we did. I don’t know if that means that they’re the best team tonight, but, tonight they executed their game plan and took advantage of their chances tonight more so than we did.”

On if it was a successful season overall:
“I think success is defined differently for everyone. This was a really positive step for me, for this group but we still have unfinished business.”

Columbus Crew SC Midfielder Wil Trapp
On the lack of finishing:
“It’s interesting. We got punched in the face like we punched a couple of teams in the face early. It sucks to be on the other side of it. Giving away two goals early, you’re always going to be fighting back so that’s not the scenario you want to be in but I give credit to our guys for just battling as hard as we could to try and get; first of all get the first goals and then try and get the second one. That’s the game, man. It’s not always pretty, but we’re a team and the last thing we’re going to do is single out guys from a mistake because we all made mistakes this game.”

On if there were any nerves going into the game:
“I think it’s a play that just doesn’t come off that routinely comes off and it didn’t. Usually Steve [Clark] takes the touch and clears it. But, today, credit them with their pressure; I thought they did an excellent job. But, I wouldn’t say the stage got the better of us by any means.”

Referee Jair Marrufo (via pool reporter)
In the lead-up to Portland’s second goal, should play have been stopped when Diego Chara passed the ball out of bounds to Alvas Powell on the sideline?
“If the ball had clearly crossed the line, a throw-in should have been given. However, the assistant referee did not see the ball leave the field of play.”

Did the assistant referee communicate to you whether he saw the ball go out while on the field or in the locker room at halftime?
“No.”

Was a whistle blown at the time?
“No.”

Notes:

  • The Timbers became the 10th different team in league history to win MLS Cup and the third expansion team (Chicago Fire, 1998; Real Salt Lake, 2009) to win a league title.
  • Midfielder Diego Valeri was named MLS Cup MVP. He joins Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns, 2013) and Bill Walton (Portland Trail Blazers, 1977) as players for Portland professional teams who were named MVP of a championship game. 
  • Valeri is the second Argentine player to win MLS Cup MVP honors, joining Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus, 2008).
  • Valeri is the first Timbers player to score in multiple MLS postseasons (2013, 2015).
  • Head coach Caleb Porter became the sixth former MLS player to win MLS Cup as a coach (Frank Yallop, Peter Nowak, Dominic Kinnear, Jason Kreis, Peter Vermes).
  • Porter became the fourth coach to complete the MLS Cup-NCAA Championship title double in MLS history (Bruce Arena, Steve Sampson, Sigi Schmid).
  • Midfielder Rodney Wallace's goal was his second of the postseason. He joins Will Johnson, Brian Farber and Clyde Best as Timbers players with multiple goals in a single postseason. 
  • The game-winning goal was scored by Wallace, who is the longest-tenured Timbers player. Wallace was acquired by the club on Nov. 24, 2010, the same day as the MLS expansion draft. 
  • Sunday’s MLS Cup marked the seventh all-time meeting between Columbus and Portland and the first in the postseason as the Timbers have posted a record of 3-2-2 all-time across all competitions.
  • Defender Nat Borchers started and played in his third MLS Cup – Borchers played in the 2009 and 2013 MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake. In addition, midfielder Jack Jewsbury made his second career appearance in MLS Cup after playing 66 minutes for Sporting Kansas City in 2004.
  • Portland is just the third team to begin in the Knockout Round and reach MLS Cup (LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo – both 2012).
  • The Timbers advanced to MLS Cup for the first time in the club’s history since joining the league in 2011 and the championship match marked their first appearance in a league title game since reaching Soccer Bowl ’75 during the club’s inaugural campaign.
  • Valeri scored the fastest goal in MLS Cup history (27 seconds). The previous record was five minutes set in the first MLS Cup in 1996 between D.C. United and the L.A. Galaxy as the Galaxy’s Eduardo Hurtado scored the opening goal.
  • Valeri became the ninth different Timbers player to score a goal in the 2015 playoffs – the most of any team in the playoffs.
  • Forward Lucas Melano tallied his first career MLS postseason assist in the match.
  • Midfielder Darlington Nagbe became the third Timbers players to register multiple assists in the 2015 playoffs.
  • Portland tallied the two quickest goals in history to open MLS Cup (seven minutes), breaking the previous record of two goals in 23 minutes set by D.C. United in 2004.
  • Borchers and midfielder Will Johnson each won their second MLS Cup, both won titles with Real Salt Lake in 2009.
  • Borchers, defenders Jorge Villafaña and Alvas Powell, midfielder Darlington Nagbe and forward Fanendo Adi were the only five players to appear in all six of Portland’s playoff matches in 2015. Nagbe, Powell and Borchers are the only three players to have played every minute of the 2015 playoffs for the Timbers.
  • Portland is unbeaten in its last three meetings (2-0-1) against Crew SC across all competitions, winning its last two games at MAPFRE Stadium.
  • The Timbers are the fourth professional team in Portland to win a league championship, joining the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), 2013 Portland Thorns (NWSL) and 1916 Portland Rosebuds (PCHA – professional) as well as the second professional soccer team to claim a title, joining the Portland Thorns – the club’s women’s professional team.
  • Adam Kwarasey is the first Norway-born player to win MLS Cup. 
  • With the MLS Cup title, Portland qualifies for the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League tournament, their second time reaching the tournament (2014-15)
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