Portland Timbers Win MLS Is Back Tournament
The Portland Timbers have punched their ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League with a win over Orlando City FC on Tuesday night. The MLS Is Back Tournament came down to a thrilling finale as both teams came into this championship game with a lot of momentum, making it hard to predict the outcome.
The Timbers were able to jump in front in the 27th minute of play when they scored a header off of a brilliant set piece taken by captain Diego Valeri. Larrys Mabiala was able to meet Valeri’s free kick with a nice, downward-aimed header that bounced its way past Orlando City’s goalkeeper, Pedro Gallese, who got both hands on the ball but was unable to push it out outside of the goal.
However, Orlando City was not going down without a fight as they fought their way back to level pegging in the 39th minute when their captain, and Portuguese veteran, Nani beat his defender down the line to hit a low, hard cross that went right to Mauricio Pereya. Pereya was able to trap the ball and slot it home with a left-footed shot to the near post.
With the game tied going into the second half, the Timbers were able to take the lead in the 66th minute when Dario Zuparic’s shot went between Orlando forward Nani’s legs and into the goal.
Tuesday night’s goal was the first of Zuparic’s career and it was quite a memorable one as it won him and his team the MLS Is Back Tournament, earning them a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
This is also the Portland Timbers’ first championship since the MLS Cup in 2015. Ending their season on a high note, they’re now looking forward to resuming the MLS regular season on August 23rd against their rivals, the Seattle Sounders. Orlando City FC will resume their MLS season on August 22nd when they take on David Beckham’s Inter Miami.