Portland Timbers win MLS back tournament, closing magical Cinderella run in virus-free bubble

Disney World likes to market itself as the most magical place on earth, and fortunately for the Portland Timbers, they are able to exploit that magic enough to win the MLS Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida. .

The Timbers defeated Orlando City 2–1 in the final of the MLS, a contest held back Tuesday night by beating Cinderella-19 run by Cinderella through an unusual one-off tournament hosted at Disney World in the “Bubble” , Where teams could survive COVID-19.

As the final team, the Timbers have earned a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League and could try for a spot to represent the region at FIFA’s Club World Cup.

“It is going to be a great memory for us,” team coach Giovanni Savage said of winning the tournament. “It’s special, it’s unique and we’re able to lift this trophy which gives us the possibility to compete outside the United States. It’s a special feeling. Who knows there will be another tournament like this, but we Portland is proud to award another trophy.

Center Dario Zuparic, who signed with the Timbers prior to the 2020 season, picked up a good moment to score his first goal in MLS, beating the crucial game-winner. Diego Valerie served in the corner kick in the 66th minute, settled by Eric Williamson and fired from inside the box. His shot deflected Jeremy Abobis’ leg and Zuparich redirected the ball into the goal.

Timers scored in the 27th minute on the second set. Valerie drove an in-swinging free kick into the box and Larrios Mabiala miscued the ball well past his defender Joao Muthinho. This is Mabiala’s eighth career goal for the Dunes.

Orlando equalized 12 minutes later. The most influential player in the Orlando tournament, Nani dribbled down the endline and fired a low cross to Mauricio Pereira at the top of the 6-yard box. Williamson missed his tackle and Perera did well to score past goalkeeper Steve Clarke.

Mabiala said, “You know, I always think the harder the fight, the more beautiful the victory.” “In the end, we’ve been through a lot of tough games, especially the final two against Orlando and Philadelphia. They gave us a very tough test, but the fact that we know about the opposition that we have too much Personality and character. “

The month-long MLS Back Tournament is held in Orlando, where teams were sequestered at Disney World Resorts and games were played at vacant stadiums at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The tournament was a grueling accident, with teams playing in the damp Florida Heat every few days.

Tinders was not a favorite, with pundits and scientific models giving them fewer hurdles to reach the end. But the Tybers defied expectations, with Savarese telling The Oregonian / Oregonnoy before the finals: “We don’t play for commentators, we don’t play for writers.”

“Looks great to achieve a historic moment for our club,” Savarej said after Tuesday’s win. He said, ‘Credit to the players because they came with the intention that we reach Portland. The mindset was to take one game at a time and everyone was showing the unity of the game, the game that we had. “

In addition to a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, players were also awarded up to $ 1.1 million in prize money, with a guaranteed $ 300,000 that the Timbers won for the last team standing. Sebastian Blanco then joked that his family was entitled to the prize money after it lasted 40 days.

But the tournament’s launch was not easy amid the deadly COVID-19 epidemic.

Initial negotiations between the MLS Players Association and the league intensified, threatening the league with a lockout. Two sides emerged, involving players for a shorter duration than the league, and COVID-19 outbreaks later knocked FC Dallas and Nashville SC out of the tournament when they returned to MLS .

Mabiala said, “Personally, I have three children, two children, and the last 10 days have been very difficult, because my son called me every morning, crying and asking when I’m going to come back.” “This is difficult. We just told ourselves that we need to make it worth it – we don’t want to leave it for long and go back to our homes without a trophy. “

The unusual nature of the tournament raised concerns that players may not be fully engaged, but the Timbers, who ran in the finals, were marked by a serious desire to win.

Things got tense in the 32nd minute of Tuesday’s final when Blanco met Orlando coach Oscar Pareja on the side and confronted him with a hand gesture, which appeared to accuse Pareja of running his mouth. The referee, Ismail Elfth, stalked Blanco and looked on as Blanco and Pareja apparently dealt their squab.

Coming into the finals, Sevaris opted to stay with the work he did, leaving no change from the starting lineup that defeated Philadelphia Union in the semifinals.

Orlando has also been remarkably consistent. The Lions’ starting lineup in the final was the same as in the previous three matches and nine of their 11 starters started all seven matches of the tournament.

The de facto of the tournament, Orlando City has never qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs since joining the league in 2015. But Pareja, the first-year coach for the Lions, has replaced a roster that is no different for one. It finished second-to-last place last year.

Attention now leads to the MLS regular season, which resumes on Wednesday when FC Dallas will host Nashville SC – with a limited number of fans.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said fans would be allowed the game in some markets where local officials allow it, with health experts warning extensively that it is not safe for the crowd while coronovirus is not under control. The Timbers have not asked permission to host fans in their first home games.

“I believe we have a good plan for the place,” Garber told ESPN’s Taylor Twelman when asked Tuesday about the decision to host fans for this season, especially the protocol outlines for fans without. “We’ve just got to start, Taylor. We’ve stepped back and can see if it can work. If it does, we’ll continue it and if it doesn’t, we’ll have to Have to address. “

The Timbers’ regular season began in March with a win and a loss before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 epidemic. MLS has a group stage back tournament, which the Timbers finished with two wins and a draw, which counts toward the regular season.

The Timbers’ first match outside the MLS will be a back bubble. On August 23, the vacant will take place against the Seattle Sounders at Providence Park.

They would then play a match every three days until the sept. 6. The regular season of the MLS has not been scheduled, but Garber said he expects the playoffs and the MLS Cup to be played before the year ends.

Caitlin Murray For Oregon / OregonLive

before this:

Despite the low-key vibe, high stakes for the Timbers

Timber Open is MLS Back Tournament with a win over Labors

Timbers beat Dynamo, clinics knockout spot

Timbers top group F in MLS is back for LAFC

Timbers quarterfinal after dramatic PK shootout with FC Cincinnati

Valerie leads the Timers to victory over NYCFC

Timbers beat Philadelphia, MLS backs championship