PORTLAND, Ore. – This one was for the fans.
That’s the general feeling as the Portland Timbers continue to relish their Cascadia Cup championship, secured wth Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
The Timbers were riding high as they got back to work in a Tuesday training session at JELD-WEN Field in preparation for their season finale this Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes, who recently secured some hardware of their own with the capture of the Supporters’ Shield.
“It’s tremendous for the fans,” interim head coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson said. “They thoroughly deserve it. Everything aside, it’s something that they thoroughly deserved. 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.”
Beating a Vancouver side gunning for a playoff spot and hoisting a trophy at the end of what has been a bitterly disappointing year was certainly not something expected from the Timbers. They had two previous chances to win the Cup, at home against the Seattle Sounders on Sept. 15 (a 1-1 draw) and in Seattle on Oct. 7 (a 3-0 loss).
And heading into the Vancouver game, the Timbers had not won on the road, making them perilously close to becoming just the fifth team in MLS history to go winless away from home.
Making the trophy ceremony – when Sounders supporters handed over the Cup to the Timbers Army, who then quickly transferred it into the hands of team captain Jack Jewsbury for the celebration – even sweeter.
“It was one of those games where both teams had a ton to play for, obviously them with the playoff race and us with the Cascadia Cup championship,” said team captain Jack Jewsbury, whose 39th-minute golazo was all the scoring the Timbers needed.
“It was our third chance at it, and to get it at this point it means a lot to this group because we never put our heads down, we continued to fight and work hard for one another. And it’s a tribute to everyone on this team, because we’ve been through a lot this year.”
The Timbers certainly didn’t play like a team at the bottom of the Western Conference which had lost 12 of its 16 previous road games. They created nine attempts on goal, and limited the Whitecaps to just one shot on goal.
WATCH: Timbers edge Whitecaps
“Obviously, we’ve struggled on the road all year,” Wilkinson said. “We were constantly going on in training about how this needs to change, how it should change, how this would send a message going into next season. And we’ve addressed a lot of the demons as such. So we were very, very nervous.
Our backline, I thought, was tremendous. I thought [defenders] Steven Smith, Kosuke Kimura, [Hanyer] Mosquera, [Eric] Brunner and David Horst – how could I forget him – were absolutely tremendous.”
Down two defenders
Brunner and Mamadou “Futty” Danso each underwent surgeries following Sunday’s game for nagging injuries.
Brunner, who came on for the start of the second half of Sunday’s game, underwent microfracture surgery of a chondral lesion in his right ankle Tuesday afternoon.
His expected recovery time is six to eight weeks, the team said.
Danso, also a central defender, underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday for a small lateral meniscus tear in his left knee. The team pegged his expected recovery period at four to six weeks.
Dan Itel covers the Portland Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.