Columbus Crew v Portland Timbers: Borchers and Co. aiming to make history
Portland Timbers defender Nat Borchers said history is on the minds of his team-mates as they seek to win a maiden MLS Cup.
The Timbers travel to Columbus Crew for Sunday’s showpiece, with the Portland franchise in their first final since joining the MLS as an expansion club in 2011.
Portland’s drought extends beyond their time in the United States’ premier league.
You have to go back 40 years for the Timbers’ last final, when they lost Soccer Bowl ’75 to Tampa Bay Rowdies in their inaugural season in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Borchers is no stranger to the MLS Cup, having won the decider with Real Salt Lake in 2009, while he walked away with a runners-up medal four years later.
The 34-year-old, who scored in Portland’s 5-3 aggregate win over FC Dallas in the Western Conference finals, is looking to make new memories in Columbus.
“I think about the history of this club and how proud I am to be a part of it and I think the rest of the group is just so proud of the history and the chance to be a part of something so special,” said Borchers, whose Timbers ended the regular season in third position.
“To be able to bring a trophy home would be fantastic and to be the pioneers and the first [Timbers MLS] team to do it would be very special.”
The Timbers are in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten run en route to the Cup, however, former Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom defender Liam Ridgewell is in doubt with a calf strain.
Borchers added: “We’ve really come together at the right time.
“We have so much talent and we’ve got so much good soccer in us, I think we just have that collective belief that you have to have, that you can’t fake, and I think that right now we have it.”
If the Timbers are to claim the Cup, they must overcome the Crew at MAPFRE Stadium.
The Crew progressed to their first final since 2008 – when they lifted the trophy – as 2-1 winners over New York Red Bulls, who topped the Eastern Conference standings at the end of the regular season.
“It’s hard to put words to it. It’s surreal right now. A lot of emotions going on but we’re hosting the MLS Cup in Columbus,” midfielder Wil Trapp told the Crew’s official website.
“It’s a testament to how hard we worked during the season. We are going to feed off the crowd. It’s going to be a chess match, a battle but what more would you want in a MLS final?”
The Crew and Timbers met in Columbus in September, with the latter prevailing 2-1 courtesy of a Fanendo Adi brace.