When the World Cup-style tournament began on July 8, no one was quite sure how it would turn out. With FC Dallas and Nashville SC withdrawing due to several COVID-19 results, there was uncertainty if there would ever be an end result.
However, one month and three days later, the Portland Timbers were crowned the champions of the MLS is Back Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The victory by the Timbers not only gave them the chance to hoist the coveted trophy but it also guaranteed them a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League as well as $300,000 in prize money.
Portland, who were in their third cup final in six years, were able to get on the board first in the 27th-minute. After left-back Jorge Villafaña won a free kick in the attacking half, club legend Diego Valeri delivered a perfect ball to Larrys Mabiala, who was able to head it in past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Moments later, however, the Lions were able to equalise when Mauricio Pereyra found the back of the net after receiving a cross from former Manchester United player Dani.
In the 66th-minute, the Timbers were able to score what turned out to be the winner after the ball magically landed in front of Dario Zuparic, who poked it into the net.
It was a Cinderella story for Orlando, who were not even supposed to do well in their group, much less make the final. However, after winning their group and getting some impressive victories in the knockout stage, including an upset over tournament favourite Los Angeles FC, head coach Oscar Pareja has a lot to look forward to in the future.
For Portland, their experience in title matches showed as they remained cool, calm, and collected in winning their first piece of silverware since they won the 2015 MLS Cup. It was also an impressive feat because they were able to defeat a team who play approximately 20 miles away from where the matches were being held for this tournament.
The MLS is resuming its regular season play today, when FC Dallas host Nashville SC after both teams were disqualified from the tournament in the Sunshine State.
On August 23, the Portland Timbers will return to action as they host rival Seattle Sounders in a much-anticipated matchup. Orlando City, meanwhile, will travel to Fort Lauderdale, where they will take on in-state rival Inter Miami on August 22.
Walt Disney World is known as the place “Where Dreams Come True,” and the Portland Timbers were able to experience that feeling as they are on top of the MLS.