Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala (33) celebrates after scoring during the first half. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO – Portland Timbers FC’s best offense came from its defense Tuesday night.
Those goals from Portland’s center backs was good enough to propel Portland to the MLS Is Back Tournament championship with a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
Larrys Mabiala scored in the first half and Dario Zuparic tallied in the second for Portland, which received about $300,000 from Major League Soccer for winning the 34-day competition.
The triumph also was special for Timbers FC head coach Giovanni Savarese. As coach of the Cosmos, Savarese directed the club to three North American Soccer League championships, but fell short of another goal – reaching the Concacaf Champions Cup through the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
He and his team accomplished that feat Tuesday night.
In what has become tradition in many of the 51 games of the Major League Soccer tournament, both teams kneeled at the center circle for Black Lives Matter.
Then the game of soccer and some MLS glory matter.
Larrys Mabiala lifted Portland into a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute when he headed Diego Valeri’s pin-point cross from six yards past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Orlando City, however, equalized in the 39th minute when Mauricio Pereyra scored from inside the box past goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Off a corner kick in the 66th minute, Zuparic slotted home a Jeremy Ebobisse feed that became the game-winner.
The MLS regular season resumes with home game on Wednesday, when FC Dallas hosts Nashville SC. Those two teams were unable to compete in the competition due to COVID-19 outbreaks.