Portland Timbers

Timbers to welcome Liga MX team to Providence Park in 2020

usatsi_13474459.jpg
USA Today Images

Timbers to welcome Liga MX team to Providence Park in 2020

The Portland Timbers will host a Leagues Cup match this July.

According to the Timbers, Portland will welcome a Liga MX team to Providence Park on either July 21 or July 22 as a part of the 2020 Leagues Cup. Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX released the competition’s full schedule on Thursday.

“This is a very important tournament for the Timbers and MLS and we look forward to playing host to what will be one of the better sides in Liga MX,” Timbers general manager and president of soccer said in a release. “It gives us a tremendous opportunity to play a meaningful match against top-end competition in front of our fans and is the first step towards a deepening MLS relationship with Liga MX.”

The 2020 Leagues Cup will feature eight clubs from each league in a single-elimination tournament with three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals and final. Like the 2019 edition, all matches between the MLS and Liga MX team are played in home market of the MLS team.

This is Portland’s first appearance in the Leagues Cup. The Timbers qualified to be in the tournament after finishing top-four in the Western Conference and thus not participating in either the 2020 CONCAF Champions League or 2020 Campeones Cup.

Portland Timbers again prove why they're one of the MLS' best franchises

Portland Timbers again prove why they're one of the MLS' best franchises

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.

[RELATED]: Portland Timbers win MLS is Back Tournament, punch ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

"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.

[RELATED]: Portland Timbers and fans celebrate MLS is Back Tournament Final Win

Portland Timbers and fans celebrate MLS is Back Tournament Final Win

Portland Timbers and fans celebrate MLS is Back Tournament Final Win

The Portland Timbers are champions once again.

After a 2-1 victory over Orlando City FC in the MLS is Back Tournament Final, the Timbers have won their first championship since the 2015 MLS Cup.

Despite a lack of fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Timbers and their faithful followers still had plenty of reason to celebrate.

After hoisting the trophy, the Timbers went on to celebrate with virtual fans in attendance.

Owner Merritt Paulson also thanked the fans. 

Twitter user Nicole Scragg painted a beautiful picture to celebrate the victory.

However, most just celebrated the win on Twitter.

 

Portland Timbers win MLS is Back Tournament, punch ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

Portland Timbers win MLS is Back Tournament, punch ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

Vamos Timbers!!

The Portland Timbers are champions once again, this time winning the MLS is Back Tournament after defeating Orlando City FC 2-1 in the final.

It is the Timbers' first championship since winning the MLS Cup in 2015. 

Portland got on the board in the 27th minute when Larrys Mabiala headed in a beautiful Diego Valeri free-kick into the back of the net. 

However, Orlando City FC was able to equalize just before halftime in the 39th minute when Mauricio Pereyra beat Steve Clark. 

But the Timbers were not done yet.

In the 66th minute, Dario Zuparic scored his first career goal in a Timbers uniform off a corner kick. Striker Jeremy Ebobisse had the assist. 

With the win, the Timbers have booked their ticket to the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League season and earned $328,000 in prize money.

"I think it's a type of tournament you always want to be in, it's not easy to get in," said Diego Valeri after advancing to the MLS is Back Tournament Final. "It takes a long time during a regular season, and now we have one game to go. So besides winning the tournament, I think it’s an extra motivation for me personally, I love that kind of international competition. I think it's a lot of prestige for the club and for the league, and you always want to be in, and it’s going to be the third time so I really want to make it happen, and play another time.”

Portland will play on August 23 against heated rival the Seattle Sounders in the resumption of the MLS regular season.

Portland Timbers will return to Providence Park, resume MLS season without fans

Portland Timbers will return to Providence Park, resume MLS season without fans

The Portland Timbers will resume the MLS season at Providence Park following the completion of the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida.

That is correct! The Timbers are one of two teams that aren’t already home from Orlando. Portland will face Orlando City FC on August 11th at 5:30 p.m. PT. The winner will get a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2021. 

[Listen to the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Diego Valeri].

After Tuesday’s championship match, the Timbers will come home to PDX to resume the MLS season, but unfortunately, the raucous Timbers Army and 25,000+ fans won’t be in attendance.

Portland will resume play on Aug. 23 against the Seattle Sounders at Providence Park.

- Aug. 23 vs Seattle Sounders (7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1)

- Aug. 26 at San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 p.m. on Fox 12 Plus)

- Aug. 29 vs Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. on Fox 12 Plus)

- Sept. 2 vs LA Galaxy (7:30 p.m. on Fox 12 Plus)

- Sept. 6 at Seattle Sounders (7 p.m. on Root Sports)

- Sept. 13 at LAFC (8 p.m. on Root Sports)

According to Matt Cohen of The Oregonian, the MLS plans to have teams arrive to the city of its road game on match day and leave that same day. All flights or bus trips will be chartered.

So, the Timbers will return home, soon, just got to take care of some business first.

Portland Timbers play for one another, not 'commentators' or 'writers'

Portland Timbers play for one another, not 'commentators' or 'writers'

No one thought the Portland Timbers would be in the MLS is Back Tournament Final.

At least no one but those that mattered most because the Timbers always believed in one another.

“We don’t play for the commentators. We don’t play for the writers," said Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese. "We play for our fans, for ourselves, for the group, for our families. We have a tremendous belief in ourselves and we’re humble. We came here with a lot of humbleness to work, to make it difficult, to achieve something important and the guys have been able to do that. So all the hard work has been for our fans and everybody that believes in us, especially our families in Portland and the fans as well."

Ahead of the MLS' restart in Orlando, oddsmakers were not kind to the Portland Timbers, giving them +2800 odds to win the tournament per The Action Network. To win Group F, which the Timbers did, oddsmakers gave them +650 odds. 

Now, after a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in the MLS is Back Semifinals, they are one game away from competing in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League which would mean so much to the team, including Diego Valeri.

"I think it's a type of tournament you always want to be in, it's not easy to get in," said the longtime Timbers midfielder who assisted the Timbers' first goal Wednesday. "It takes a long time during a regular season, and now we have one game to go. So besides winning the tournament, I think it’s an extra motivation for me personally, I love that kind of international competition. I think it's a lot of prestige for the club and for the league, and you always want to be in, and it’s going to be the third time so I really want to make it happen, and play another time.”

How have the Timbers done it? By trusting each other.

“It's the quality of the whole group, the coaching staff and the players, all the sacrifice, all the energy to make this club bigger, and knowing that all happens on the field and that’s it," said Valeri. "So, besides all the stuff around our environment, we are very focused on our job, to prepare every game and execute during the game."

That trust comes all over the field and not just between the players. After the game, striker Jeremy Ebobisse, who has four goals during the restart, commended the trust of his coaches for their players to take chances in the offensive third of the field.

"We have the freedom and the confidence of the whole staff to express ourselves on the ball and that's why we take risks in the final third. Whether it's trying to beat someone on the dribble, trying to make a run in the box that maybe might put you out of position defensively.

"There's a trust within the coaching staff to the players and then amongst the players on the field that if we take risks, because we're good players and we can make plays, that we'll have each other's backs."

Even despite a good amount of roster turnover, the culture in Portland has remained strong under Savarese.

"The togetherness of the group that we've fostered over the last couple of years has been really special," said Ebobisse. "Guys that have come in have fit in seamlessly and now you're starting to see more and more of the benefits of what we've put together as a group."

In Savarese's first season as head coach of the Timbers, he coached the franchise to its second-ever MLS Cup appearance but the team didn't finish, losing 2-0 to Atlanta. Portland doesn't want to see that happen again.

"Hopefully, we have a different script than the 2018 [MLS Cup] Final but I think it shows to the resilience of this group that we're ready to go for another final just two years later," claims Ebobisse.

"We know that still, we have one more game to get the trophy,” added Valeri. 

Next up, the Portland Timbers will play the winner of Orlando City FC and Minnesota United on August 11th at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Vamos! Portland Timbers advance to the MLS is Back Tournament Final

Vamos! Portland Timbers advance to the MLS is Back Tournament Final

The Portland Timbers are a game away from being champions once again.

The Timbers defeated the Philadelphia Union in the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament 2-1 Wednesday evening behind goals from Jeremy Ebobisse and Sebastian Blanco.

It didn't take long for the Timbers to get on the board, because in the 13th minute Ebobisse scored his fourth goal of the MLS is Back Tournament to give Portland an early lead that they never relinquished. 

Longtime Timber Diego Valeri had the assist.

Portland nearly surrendered that lead in stoppage time of the first half when Sebastian Blanco surrendered a penalty kick, but Sergio Santos badly missed frame for the Union.

It was the fifth penalty kick given up in six games for the Timbers. 

Portland 's offensive attack strung together a few great possessions but blew multiple opportunities to get a second ball in the back of the net.

That was until the 70th minute when Blanco finished a corner kick to give the Timbers a 2-0 lead. 

Blanco has been all over the stat sheet for Portland so far this tournament with three goals and five assists, having a part in 8 of the team's 12 goals. 

The Union scored a goal off a free kick in the 85th minute to pull within one but it wasn't enough. Andrew Wooten scored it for Philadelphia. Then, an equalizer for the Union in the 86th minute was disallowed for offsides.

Next up, the Portland Timbers will play the winner of Orlando City FC and Minnesota United on August 11th at 5:30 p.m. PT. The winner will get a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2021. 

WATCH: Jeremy Ebobisse gives the Timbers the lead in the MLS is Back Semifinals

WATCH: Jeremy Ebobisse gives the Timbers the lead in the MLS is Back Semifinals

It didn't take the Portland Timbers long to get on the scoreboard in the MLS is Back Semifinals.

In the 12th minute, Timbers striker Jeremy Ebobisse scored off a corner kick delivered by Diego Valeri to put Portland ahead 1-0 against the Philadelphia Union.

It was Ebobisse's fourth goal of the tournament and his first of the knockout games. 

If Portland wins the game, they will advance to the MLS is Back Tournament Final where the winner will earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League next season.

Portland Timbers could have complained about lack of rest, instead they won

Portland Timbers could have complained about lack of rest, instead they won

Despite only having three days to rest, the Portland Timbers are headed to the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida after defeating NYCFC 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

"We could have come into this match and complained and said ‘we have less days, we’re tired, we have players that haven’t rested enough,'" said head coach Giovanni Savarese. "But it’s about figuring things out and the players coming and showing up. At the end of the day, all that you planned only works when at the end, you get a win."

The Timbers did just that despite falling behind early on a dubious penalty kick call that gave NYCFC a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute. 

"We had a slow start," said Savarese. "We had some moments in which we were a little bit exposed. We tried to make sure that we defended well, but then we opened ourselves a little bit."

However, with Diego Valeri on the bench due to the quick turnaround, the Timbers got an equalizer right before halftime when Sebastian Blanco caught a rebound inside the box and converted the shot into the back of the net to level Portland, 1-1 heading into the half.

"The response was fantastic from the guys to be able to equalize and go into the locker rooms 1-1," said Savarese. "That was very important. We had to lift up towards the end of the first half our play. The ball movement, the space that we were taking, but we had a plan in place and part of the plan guys executed."

Heading back onto the pitch for the second half, Savarese had Diego Valeri replace Marvin Loría in the eleven as he planned going into the match.

"[Marvin] Loría. Loría played 45 minutes in which he did his job. He did what we asked him to do and it was perfect. We had a plan for [Diego] Valeri to come in at halftime."

How did Valeri do? Only scored the go-ahead goal, assisted by designated player Jaroslaw Niezgoda, in the 65th minute to pull the Timbers in front, 2-1. 

"He came in and he contributed in a big way," Valeri's head coach said of him. "He was fresh, was able to find good pockets, created opportunities, and was fantastic, like [Andy] Polo, like all the players today played at top level.”

Speaking of Andy Polo, when Savarese called his number in the 74th minute to replace Eryk Williamson it took him exactly one minute and eleven seconds to wow everyone watching.

There was a reason that Polo took that strike with confidence.

"It was a very important goal today. The execution was perfect," recalls Savarese. "He’s been training that, he didn’t say it, but he’s been training everyday. So, it’s not something that just came today, he’s been putting the ball there in practice."

Polo's celebration of what could easily be the goal of the year for the Timbers was what really stole the show, however. And then the backstory only makes it better.

"In regards to my celebration, it was for my daughter, really," said Polo who scored only his second goal in a Portland uniform. "She was asking me for that celebration, and I just wanted to give that to her."

While Polo's goal and celebration was the talk of Timbers Twitter, the Peruvian forward gave Blanco credit for the assist: "It was a great assist by Seba." 

In fact, Blanco has been all over the stat sheet for Portland so far this tournament with two goals and five assists. 

"Seba [Sebastián Blanco] has been great in this tournament," Savarese said of Blanco, who scored a goal and had an assist Saturday evening. "We know what we have in him. He shows that every single practice, every single day when he’s with us."

Also, not to bury the lead, but the contest was the 300th match of Diego Chara's MLS career. All 300 games have been in a Portland Timbers uniform. 

"Today was a special day because it was [Diego] Chara’s 300th match," said Savarese. "So it was meaningful and very important for us that we wanted Chara to remember it in a very special way.”

“There’s no better way to play my 300th game with the same jersey, the Timbers jersey. I’m very happy, proud of this team," Chara told reporters following the game. "I feel really happy to make my 300th game with the Timbers jersey.”

Now, the Timbers will shift their focus to the Philadephia Union who is awaiting them in the semifinals, where Savarese will once again call on his players to get a win despite less rest than the opponent.

"Now we’re going to have also less days. We have to figure it out, but the heart of the guys, the way they’re going about it has been fantastic.

"They make me feel very proud and also, that experience they have collected throughout the years, players like [Sebastián] Blanco, [Diego] Valeri, like [Diego] Chara, and all of them, we have seen a great equilibrium in them and we strongly hope they continue this trend because Philadelphia’s going to be a very difficult team.”

Portland will play the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, August 5th at 5:00 p.m. PT in the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament. 

Portland Timbers defeat NYCFC to advance to the MLS is Back semifinals

Portland Timbers defeat NYCFC to advance to the MLS is Back semifinals

The Portland Timbers are headed to the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, FL. 

Thanks to goals by Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, and Andy Polo, the Timbers overcame a 1-0 deficit against NYCFC to win 3-1 in regulation. 

NYCFC got first blood after Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala was called for a yellow card in the box. Jesus Medina would convert the kick for NYFC to take a 1-0 lead.

Then, in the 43rd minute, Sebastian Blanco caught a rebound inside the box and converted the shot into the back of the net to level Portland, 1-1 heading into the half.

NYCFC dominated large portions of the first half and held a 59% possession advantage after 45 minutes. 

Then, Diego Valeri came onto the pitch at halftime and gave the Timbers the lead in the 65th minute to pull the Timbers in front, 2-1. Designated player Jaroslaw Niezgoda had the assist. 

But the show wasn't over yet.

In the 74th minute, Andy Polo replaced Eryk Williamson and made his mark on the match immediately. One minute and eleven seconds to be exact. 

Portland will play the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, August 5th at 5:00 p.m. PT in the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament.