(Reuters) - The Portland Timbers scored two quick goals then held on to clinch the Major League Soccer Cup final with a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew in Ohio on Sunday.
Midfielder Diego Valeri gave Portland the lead after just 27 seconds thanks to a howler from Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark and a Rod Wallace header doubled their lead in the seventh minute.
Another goalkeeping blunder, this time by Portland’s Adam Kwarasey, gifted Crew striker Kei Kamara a goal in the 18th minute but the home side failed to find the equalizer.
Portland coach Caleb Porter shrugged off criticism of his team’s style.
“We’ve taken some grief for playing defensively but ... you can’t win a championship unless you’re good defensively,” he told ESPN.
“The way we shut down that second half defensively, a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have been able to put my team out to play that way to kill the game, win the game.”
Portland got off to a flying start when Crew goalkeeper Clark dallied on a clearance and Valeri slid in to redirect the ball into the net to give the Timbers the fastest goal in MLS Cup final history.
Portland, in just their fifth season in MLS, went 2-0 up thanks to a well-placed header from Wallace, who had to cut his celebrations near the corner flag short to avoid being pelted with beer cans by the home fans.
Crew striker Kamara then notched his 26th goal of the season to get his side back in the game but it was Portland who came closest to scoring in the second half.
In the 60th minute, Kamara almost scored an own-goal when his attempted clearance in the six-yard box hit the crossbar, ricocheted onto defender Michael Parkhurst’s arm then hit the post.
Portland striker Fanendo Adi later hit the post with a header.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford