The Portland Timbers are on top of the MLS world once again.
Following a 2-1 victory in the MLS is Back Tournament Final, the Portland Timbers have won its first MLS championship since the 2015 MLS Cup.
"There’s a great feeling to achieve this in this tournament. A historical moment for our club," said head coach Giovanni Savarese. "We feel proud that we were able to get this one and bring another trophy to Portland, back to our fans."
This was not the Timbers' first final since 2015. The team made it to the 2018 MLS Cup in Savarese's first season as head coach but ultimately they fell 2-0. After winning the MLS is Back Tournament, Savarese thought back to that run.
"It felt very much like the run [to MLS Cup] of 2018 because the guys were very fresh mentally."
Unlike in 2018, this time the Timbers were able to bring home the trophy.
"At the end of the day you don’t play finals, you just win, and we’ll just remember the winner of this MLS Is Back tournament," said Larrys Mabiala who scored the Timbers' first goal Tuesday evening.
Bringing back the championship was the goal the team had since leaving their families to enter the Orlando bubble.
"Going back before the tournament started, we had this conversation between us and we just told ourselves, we aren’t going to leave our families for so long [without getting the trophy]," explained Mabiala.
Savarese was proud of his players for buying into the ultimate goal.
“Every tournament, every season that you play, every moment that you compete is special when you achieve something important. This tournament, we came here with a purpose."
All tournament long the club has been stressing the unity of club for the success on the pitch and Savarese again echoed that sentiment.
"Credit to the players because they came here with a purpose. From the moment we came here from Portland, the mindset was to make sure that we win one game at a time and everybody demonstrated, game-by-game, that the unity that we have, the maturity that they showed, the way they went into every single game, achieving this has been a huge accomplishment...
"We were able to get a great victory and now we’re able to lift the trophy and, the most important part, being able to qualify for the Concacaf Champions League," added Savarese.
With the win, the Timbers punched their ticket to the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League which will be the franchise's third appearance (2014, 2016).
Sebastian Blanco, arguably the tournament's most valuable player scoring three goals and dishing out five assists, cannot wait to get back into international competition.
"I've said this in the past, this would be something very special for the team to be able to play an international tournament because it would give the team prestige, and that’s something we’re looking forward to," said Blanco. "We're not going to be complacent and we definitely want to go for more. A lot of people might think this is easy, but it’s definitely not. I’m very proud of my team, I’m very proud of the fight that we gave to all the matches. In this kind of tournament, it’s definitely going to bring some international attention. This is a tournament that I’ve definitely wanted to play in and this is something that I really wanted, but obviously this is only starting right now and there is a lot of work to do.”
Before then, the Timbers will continue the MLS regular-season. First up will be Cascadia rival Seattle on Sunday, August 23 at 7:00 p.m. PT and Savarese wants his team to continue that competitive spirit.
"We want to be competitive. We want to make sure that we leave a good legacy as a club. Every single match that we play and that we’re always contenders to any competition that there will be. We hope to continue to be strong and now we’re going to go into a season, but we’ll enjoy this tonight and tomorrow and then we’ll start thinking about what is coming next.”
But for now, the Timbers are going to celebrate.