COLUMBUS, Ohio—Diego Valeri created his own luck, and his reward was MLS Cup Most Valuable Player honors.
Valeri, who tore his left ACL on the final day of the 2014 season, scored after 27 seconds – the fastest goal in MLS Cup history – to give Portland a 1-0 lead in an eventual 2-1 MLS Cup triumph against Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium.
"We knew that they take risks to play," Valeri said. "That’s their way. We knew that the aggressiveness in the first 20 minutes from us had to be there. We tried to press them, because most of the situations that they create comes from their backline."
Under pressure from the Timbers, Columbus defender Wil Trapp passed the ball back to goalkeeper Steve Clark, who took a long touch across his own goal. Clark dallied on the ball, giving Valeri time to close him down and redirect an attempted clearance into an empty net.
"This trophy that we’ve won is for [our fans]," Valeri said, in a postgame interview with Univision. "And I hope that this makes our trophy case and in the future we can get more trophies for the club."
Valeri missed the first two months of the 2015 season while recovering from the knee injury, ultimately making 22 regular-season starts (2 goals, 8 assists). He started all five playoff matches during Portland's championship run, contributing one goal and four assists.