If you've been keeping up with our ruminations here at The Mane Land on a regular basis, you'll no doubt be aware of last week's MLS Cup preview column written by yours truly. If you didn't catch it (and if you didn't, what's wrong with you?) you should go back and check it out. It's okay, I'll wait for you.
Why did I bring that spectacular bit of internet bloggery to your attention? BECAUSE I'M CLAIRVOYANT, THAT'S WHY! I'm fairly certain that the only reason Portland couldn't bag that elusive third goal in the second half was that I predicted a 2-1 scoreline.
My "Strike While the Iron is Hot" prediction for this week: my bank account will mysteriously grow by $998,767 this Sunday night.
Here are your MLS Cup Final Highlights, in case you want to visually rehash Steve Clark and the Professional Referee Organization's worst nightmares.
The Mane Land MLS Cup Retro Diary
0:25: If the great Verne Lundquist were on the call for this game, he would've hit Steve Clark with his "bless his heart, he must be the sickest man in America" line after the Michigander appeared to be wearing blinders at the start. Really though, this has got to be the biggest blunder in MLS Cup Final history, doesn't it? I can't think of a lousier way to give up the fastest goal in the history of the Final. Steve Clark really must be sick to his stomach-- mostly because he might be out of a job.
6:38: Tony Tchani was trying to be the nice guy and tell the referee to do his job and Darlington Nagbe had to go ruin it by taking the ball away and setting up Portland's second goal inside of seven minutes. While I get that it was clearly a missed call, Tchani has to just keep playing here. This is one of those moments where Portland's playoff experience payed big dividends against a relatively inexperienced Columbus squad, and if there were ever a time for a sports announcer to use the word "savvy," this would be it.
12:12: Justin Meram goes down in the box the same way my 3-year-old niece hits the floor when you tell her, "it's time to go potty." No penalty. By the way, this was the most creative Columbus attack of the day.
17:26: Kei Kamara scores on a play that, in soccer terms, was about as FUBAR as FUBAR can be. In fact, it was reminiscent of the game-winning goal from the championship of my 9-year-old YMCA league, except that Steve Clark probably wasn't playing in the dirt at the other end of the field.
This was Columbus' only shot on goal for the game. They don't call this "The Beautiful Game" for nothin' (or do they?).
Halftime: ESPN's sideline set is graced with the presence of "The Soccer Don" or, as Mrs. Garber calls him, "Don."
52:53: Lucas Melano blows a chance with a weakly hit left-footed attempt. Imagine the Timbers were building a coffin for the Crew in the second half. This was their first swing of the hammer at the final nail in that coffin, except Melano used his weaker hand and barely nicked the nail.
56:27: Melano tries to redeem himself with a fantastic run that evades the tackles of about four Crew defenders. Taylor Twellman mentions how he thinks Melano will be fantastic next season for Portland with a full preseason under his belt (I agree).
59:52: A Portland corner ricochets around the box and hits, among other things, the crossbar, the post, and Michael Parkhurst's left arm. Portland swung its hammer on the last nail but, instead of driving it through the wood, shattered it.
Side-note: The refereeing in this game was so bad that the SportsCenter highlights, which also mispronounced the names of Darlington Nagbe and Kei Kamara, made note of it.
70:08: Fanendo Adi has a header that bangs off the post and bounces off of Steve Clark's chest. Corner Portland. Adi swings the hammer on a new nail this time, misses altogether and hits the coffin.
73:22: Darlington Nagbe has a crack at the nail as well, but drops the hammer on his back-swing.
80:50: After a few minutes of watching Columbus kicking the ball aimlessly towards the goal, Portland nearly puts it away with a Nat Borchers header that goes directly into Steve Clark's leg. Borchers' has a chance at the nail, but Clark snatches the hammer out of his hands.
94:28: 28 seconds past the announced stoppage time and Columbus has a free-kick--seemingly their last chance. Steve Clark doesn't come forward to try and help his team get a goal. Why? Because Steve Clark, apparently, doesn't like having a job.
Full-Time: Portland wins the title, the first for the city since the '77 Blazers. Caleb Porter shakes the hand of Gregg Berhalter with a smirk that says, "Yeah, I rooted for the villain in all those 90's Disney movies." Back in Portland, the Crystal Ballroom goes crazy.