(East Los Angeles, CA) [August 13, 2020] From The Editor’s Desk: It was “The(ee) Match on the Pitch” that all Major League Soccer fans were waiting for, the culmination of a most successful re-start of their beloved League and its historic “MLS Is Back” Tournament. After nearly five weeks of great competition that featured an outburst of fantastic new talent that gave them a chance to shine brightly, and very dramatically, they did.
Add to this the recognition of the “Black Lives Matter” movement that was embraced before each and every match as well as with a variety of T-shirts that were emblazoned with that saying as well as many others. For the remainder of the season, the players will keep this Legacy alive and active with their very own cause created by the Black Players Coalition of MLS.
The Franchise players also played their parts very well, as in the case of the Orlando City’s outstanding striker, Nani, the Portuguese warrior who gave it his all. On the other hand, the talents of Sebastian Blanco, who earned the Tourney’s MVP, showed why the Argnetinian is now among the exclusive players in the MLS.
Both of these mentioned players led their respective teams to the Finale, and depending on your choice of teams, you were either very sad, or very glad with the final outcome. In the end, it was the entire MLS fan-base that loved to see the “near-full” return of the World’s most popular sport, Soccer/Futbol.
Match Recap By Our Correspondent, Javier Pérez: The thrilling MLS is Back tournament has reached its end. After a series of upsets and last minute goals, Portland and Orlando City FC met at the final. Orlando had the great luxury of playing in their own city, since the MLS “Bubble” took place in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Field. Orlando had players shining throughout the tournament such as their Portuguese star Nani and his compatriot Joao Mountinho. Orlando City earned their right to play in th Title match since they were responsible for knocking out MLS Western Conference powerhouse, LAFC, while also to their great credit, the Timbers knocked out New York City and Philadelphia Union.
Photo Credits: Jared Martinez, Matt Stith, Devin L’Amoreaux. To see all of the Tournament’s Post-Game Awards & Awardees, plus the remaining schedule of MLS season games, click here.
Portland took to the pitch with a 4-2-3-1 lineup of Steve Clark on goal accompanied by Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic as center backs along with Chris Duvall and Jorge Villafaña as fullbacks. Diego Chara and Eryk Williamson played the defensive midfield while Marvin Loria, Diego Valeri, and Sebastian Blanco occupied the attacking midfield with lone striker Jeremy Ebobisse up top.
Orlando opted for the same 4-2-3-1 lineup having Pedro Gallese on goal along with Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos as center backs accompanied by Joao Mountinho and Ruan playing on the defensive wings. Jhegson Mendez and Oriol Rosell played the defensive midfield with Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller up top, and striker Tesho Akindele leading the attack.
The Timbers kicked off the first half on the right foot as Mabiala slammed a “free-kick” center from Diego Valeri into the top right of the net, giving Portland a 1-0 lead. However, just a little after 10 minutes Mauricio Pereyra showed his amazing reflexsive talents, as he gathered a deflected Nani center that allowed him to sneak the ball past the goal-keeper and equalize the game at (1-1). The teams went into the locker room tied at half time.
As the second half kicked off, the referee found himself quite busy as he issued a handful of yellow cards. First, Larrys Mabiala received one followed by Antonio Carlos and Joao Moutinho who received yellow cards as well. However Portland’s center backs shone through as Dario Zuparic tapped in a shot that passes through the feet of two players just in front of him, sneaking it into the right corner. Despite having a full 20 minutes left on the all-powerful game clock, Orlando and their go-to player, Nani, failed to capitalize and the Portland Timbers lifted the first-ever MLS is Back Championship Trophy in joyful and triumphant victory. The final score (2-1).
MLS Regular Season Now Underway: FC Dallas defeated Nashville SC (1-0) on Wednesday, August 12th, with more games to come on Saturday, August 15th.
About Our Correspondent: Javier Pérez is a Film, TV and Media Major with a Minor in Photography at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. He is a 2018 graduate of Marquez High School, located in Huntington Park, CA, and earned varsity letters in both Football and Soccer. Javier is now going into his Junior year at CSUDH.