Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers played out a memorable rematch of the 2015 MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night, and after the two sides traded punches for nearly all 90 minutes, Crew SC rookie Niko Hansen won it for the home side with his first MLS goal.
The evening marked Portland's first return to Columbus since their championship triumph two seasons ago, and for most of the second half it appeared they'd done enough to go home with a road point. Dairon Asprilla drilled in an early opener and after Crew SC reeled off two fine finishes, Fanendo Adi hit the upper corner just before halftime to keep matters level at the break.
- Crew SC "send message" to MLS with win over Timbers: "We can hurt teams"
- Columbus Crew SC rookie Niko Hansen gets on-camera shower after debut goal
- 4' – POR – Dairon Asprilla Watch
- 11' – CLB – Justin Meram Watch
- 19' – CLB – Ola Kamara Watch
- 45+3' – POR – Fanendo Adi Watch
- 84' – CLB – Niko Hansen Watch
- PACESETTERS FALL: The Timbers entered this weekend as the league's early leaders, with 9 points in the standings and 12 goals scored in their first three games. That run of perfection was brought to an end by Crew SC, who worked hard to limit the danger posed by Portland maestro Diego Valeri and his countryman Sebastian Blanco.
- TOO MANY WEAPONS: Columbus' array of attacking options rose to the fore on Saturday. After playing with three in the back at D.C. last week, Gregg Berhalter's favored 4-2-3-1 shape returned, with playmaker Federico Higuain producing his best performance in some time, Meram posing constant danger in transition, Ethan Finlay offering important width and frontrunner Kamara finding the net yet again. And subs like Hansen and Adam Jahn made their mark off the bench.
- TIMBERS LEGEND: Adi continues to be a menace in the penalty box, and his coolly-taken strike in Columbus puts him at 45 career MLS goals, level with NASL-era Timber John Bain atop Portland's all-time scoring chart, which factors in all of the club's seasons in various leagues dating back to 1975.