Diego Valeri and Portland Timbers miss fairy tale ending to MLS season

PORTLAND, Ore. – As fans started queuing outside Providence Park on Monday, five days before the Timbers are set to host their first MLS Cup, their good cause stems from one simple thing: They want to experience history. Portland has billed itself as Soccer City USA for decades, and the chances to show why – on a high stage – are few and far between. This is their chance.

It’s also bigger than football. For a city that has seen its reputation beaten multiple times over the past two years, the MLS Cup is an opportunity to show pride in the community and the club. Rain, wind and cold Saturday afternoon, the Timbers fans mostly did just fine. They created the right atmosphere for a championship game that few places in the country could hope to replicate the sport. When Felipe Mora equalize, 1-1, in the waning moments of stoppage time, the pandemic ensues with the feeling that a storybook will soon be over.

It didn’t do.

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The Timbers continued to be the aggressor in extra time, having destroyed intensely pressed visitors from New York City, but the goal overpowered them and the game went before the penalty shootout against Timbers troops. . With Mora set to take the lead and Diego Valeri, the heart and soul of the club for much of Major League Soccer, the Timbers have reason to be confident. Both had their shots stopped and the Timbers fell, 4-2. That is football.

Portland head coach Gio Saverese said: “Football can be so cruel because only one can win and when it comes to playing against each other, it’s even worse. “So we’re going to have to make sure we don’t forget the most important part that this group showed today why it’s in the final.

“It’s hard not to lift the trophy at home.”

It was especially cruel to Valeri. He has accomplished almost everything without a record in the MLS since arriving from his native Argentina in 2013. He won the MLS Cup in 2015 and was the MVP of the game. He was the league’s MVP in 2017 and a four-time star, but his future with the club is unclear. Over the course of the season, his role dwindled and possibly, if not, the MLS Cup would be his last appearance for the Timbers. Scoring in penalties to help preserve the title in front of home fans would be the best thing ever.

Earlier in the week, Valeri watched fans line up around the stadium and understood the lasting impact that would come from lifting the trophy inside Providence Park.

“For us, it was unbelievable. We knew we had to give everything to the people who love the club and the team,” he told ESPN on Thursday. “For it to happen here would be completely different [than winning on the road]. “

If the MLS Cup is in fact Valeri’s last game with the club, the legacy he leaves behind is unparalleled.

“This guy has helped take the culture and the team to another level for the club, for the community,” said the Timbers midfielder. Diego Chara. “It was [a great] experience playing with Valeri for eight years. He’s great.”

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Felipe Mora’s goal in the 94th minute Portland Timbers 1-1 New York City FC

Had the Timbers found a late winner or been on top of penalties, Chara could have been named the game’s MVP. At 35, he looks just as fresh in extra time as he did when the game started and can beat anything resembling an opportunity for NYCFC in the later stages of the game.

It’s no surprise that Portland was mostly on the bench and tried to play on the counter-attack throughout the first half, but the Timbers’ were unable to create any real threats for about the first 60 minutes of the game. Attacking Midfielder Sebastian Blanco, the team’s player of the season, returned to the starting line-up after a hamstring injury two weeks ago and failed to make much of an impact. Santiago Moreno substituted for Blanco in the 62nd minute and from there, Portland gradually tilted the pitch in his favor.

Even as Portland played more in its offensive third, good chances were limited and when it was announced there would be four minutes of injury time, the idea of ​​a late winner seemed far-fetched. Then, for almost four full 90 minutes, Yimmi Chara Heading the ball into a sea of ​​people in front of NYCFC’s goal, it spun around before landing at the feet of Mora, who calmly shot past Johnson.

“It was an indescribable moment for us because we fought throughout the game to get that goal,” Moreno said. “We feel we deserve it.”

Portland has been chasing the goal since falling behind in the 41st minute after a free header by Golden Shoe winner Taty Castellanos. He remains unmarked on a cross from a free kick from Maxi Moralez and goalkeeper Steve Clark didn’t react well enough to keep it from dribbling gently across the road near his far post.

The goal celebration was marred by an ugly incident in which two beer cans were thrown onto the pitch towards the celebrating guests. One can beat NYCFC going forward Jesus Medina, who was slow to return to his feet, but continued the game.

Portland quickly announced the fan, later identified as Ivan Carrillo, had been kicked from the game and banned from Providence Park. Portland police arrested both Carrillo, 24, and Eduardo Ramos, 31, after the incident, Oregonian reports.

After Alex Callens converted the penalty to win the game, NYCFC’s celebration received an entirely different reaction. Although there were fans who immediately cleared up, it was not the case that behind the goal the thousands of people that make up the Timbers Army were still standing, chanting in unison, “PT…FC.”

It’s not the result they were looking for, but the pride they feel for their team and their city remains strong.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/portland-timbers/story/4545658/diego-valeri-and-portland-timbers-miss-out-on-fairy-tale-end-to-mls-season Diego Valeri and Portland Timbers miss fairy tale ending to MLS season

Jake Nichol

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