Portland defeats Orlando to take “MLS is Back” title

Portland Timbers claimed the “MLS is Back” title at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World on Tuesday evening as they took a narrow 2-1 win over Orlando City.

The Timbers opened the scoring in the 27th minute from a set piece as Diego Valeri fired an in-swinging free kick into the box and Larrys Mabiala did well to muscle off his defender, João Moutinho, and nod the ball into goal for his eighth career goal for the Timbers.

Orlando equalized 12 minutes later. Orlando’s most influential player of the tournament, Nani, dribbled up the end line and fired a low cross to Mauricio Pereyra at the top of the 6-yard box. Williamson missed his tackle and Pereyra knocked the ball past past goalkeeper Steve Clark.

Dario Zuparic, the center back who signed with the Timbers ahead of the 2020 season, picked a fine moment to score his first goal in MLS, notching the crucial game-winner. Valeri looped in a corner kick in the 66th minute which rebounded to Eryk Williamson and his shot deflected off Jeremy Ebobisse’s foot for Zuparic to tap in for the game winner.

“For us this is going to be a great memory,” Timbers coaching Giovanni Savarese said of winning the tournament. “It’s special, it’s unique and we’re able to lift this trophy that gives us the possibility to compete outside the United States. It’s a special feeling. Who knows if there will be another tournament like this but we’re proud to give another trophy to Portland.”

The victory gives Portland their second title in MLS after winning the MLS Cup in 2015 and they now also earn a 2021 Concacaf Champions League spot and $300,000 in prize money

 

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