As an extremely disappointing season comes to a close for the Portland Timbers, a Cascadia Cup victory finally gives the organization and its fans something to be happy about.
The Portland Timbers finally have something to cheer about. With Sunday's 1-0 road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Timbers won the Cascadia Cup giving the team and their fans some hardware to be proud of.
It has been a tough year for the Timbers. The team's second season as an MLS squad has been nothing short of a dumpster fire, leaving a much different vibe around the organization than last year at this time. At this point last year, Portland was still fighting for the final MLS playoff spot and the city was excited for what the future held for their newest pro team.
Fast-forward to this season and the happy feelings of an inaugural season and a mediocre team are gone. The Timbers' have been hanging in the league's cellar all season, they dismissed their head coach midway through the year and their $1.5 million dollar offseason acquisition was a nothing short of a flop. The Timbers have allowed the third most goals in the league, but are second to last in goals scored. They have only managed seven points (one win and three draws) on the road this season and are in no way invincible at home.
But despite all this gloom, there now is a reason to call the Timbers' second MLS season a success. While this is technically the third time the Timbers have won the coveted Supporters Cup (named after the beautiful region they call home), it is the first time they have truly won it.
Portland won the cup in both 2009 and 2010, however both seasons had an unofficial asterisk on them. During those two seasons, the Seattle Sounders didn't compete in the series; they had become an MLS team two seasons earlier than their fellow Cascadia rivals and therefore didn't take part in the annual competition for northwest bragging rights.
This year on the other hand, all three teams competed in the cup and all three teams played in the country's highest level of soccer at the time. While the entirety of the Timbers' MLS schedule was rather painful, the six games against their closest rivals were highly successful. The Timbers earned a third of their season's point total in Cascadia games alone, playing their best when it meant the most to their fans. Portland only managed 22 points in 27 games against teams outside the northwest, but managed eleven in six Cascadia games.
Now, with only one game remaining in a disappointing 2012 season, the Cascadia Cup is a silver lining for the Portland Timbers to build on going forward. A new coach, Caleb Porter, is on the way and his very impressive résumé (he led Akron to a collegiate national championship in 2010 and currently has the Zips ranked second in the nation) is even more reason to be excited. The Timbers' defense still needs some work, but the forward tandem of Franck Songo'o and Bright Dike have shown a lot of promise up front since both became fully healthy in mid-August.
A season like the current one can be disheartening, but winning a supporters cup over two playoff-bound rivals does take some fortitude, and talent. Both are traits the Timbers possess, but consistency isn't. If winning the cup has shown the Timbers anything, it is that the ability to be great is inside them somewhere. The task now is figuring out how to be so consistent.