By Eric Schulte
With a 1-0 victory on Sunday night, the Portland Timbers stole the Cascadia Cup from the Seattle Sounders, capping an up and down season. Sunday night’s victory was the first road victory for a team that desperately needed a spark to go out with. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps, who were crushed in the Cascadia Cup competition, advanced to the playoffs on Sunday despite the loss. FC Dallas, the Whitecaps’ closest competition, also lost on Sunday night, ensuring the Whitecaps their first MLS playoff appearance.
Captain Jack Jewsbury’s goal in the 39th minute helped the Timbers usher in the offseason on perhaps a bit of an up note. Jewsbury’s strike started from 30 yards out on the left side of the field, before jetting into the top right of the net. The goal capped an aggressive half for the Timbers who had seven first half shots on goal compared to the Whitecaps’ two.
”It’s tremendous for the fans. They thoroughly deserve it, everything aside it’s something that they thoroughly deserved,” said Timbers interim manager Gavin Wilkinson to media after the win.
“It’s been a long season for them and it’s been a long season for the organization, and while this doesn’t remove some of the things that have happened over the course of the season, it’s a positive and it’s something we can take into next season,” he went on to say.
After losing to the Sounders on Oct. 7 in a 3-0 rout, it looked as if the Timbers dribbled out their chances for a third Cup title. Paired with Vancouver’s playoff appearance possibly on the line, it made a Sunday night victory look all the more improbable. Still, the Timbers gathered up the last scraps of the season and showed up with a strong defensive presence and just enough offensive firepower.
The Cascadia Cup comes as Portland’s first trophy win in the MLS era, and at a time when disappointed fans could use a condolence or two. While the Cup isn’t exactly an MLS endorsed championship, it comes with an important season-ending message for fans: the Portland Timbers can still come through with a clutch performance.
‘First and foremost we wanted to win the Cascadia Cup – that means a lot not only for us but for our fans and the organization and to get that here in front of our fans that travelled to watch the game means a lot. We didn’t want to go down in history as one of the teams in MLS that hadn’t gotten a road win all year so we accomplished that,” Jewsbury said to media.
After the forgettable 2012 campaign, the Portland Timbers must now settle in with the game plans of 2013 head coach Caleb Porter. Porter agreed to sign on with the 2013 camaign back in August, coming off a successful six year coaching stay with the University of Akron.
The Timbers finalize their season on Oct. 27th at 3:30 p.m. with a home match against the first-place San Jose Earthquakes.