Michelle Kaufman

Michelle Kaufman: Shame if Timbers’ victory log can’t be part of festivities at MLS Cup

Portland Timbers' Fanendo Adi (9) celebrates his goal by jumping the fence and holding up the chainsaw for the fans during the second half of an MLS Soccer game in Portland, Ore., Sunday June 28, 2015. Portland beat Seattle 4-1.
Portland Timbers' Fanendo Adi (9) celebrates his goal by jumping the fence and holding up the chainsaw for the fans during the second half of an MLS Soccer game in Portland, Ore., Sunday June 28, 2015. Portland beat Seattle 4-1. AP

We are happy to report that the Portland Timbers’ victory log will be traveling 2,400 miles from Providence Park in downtown Portland, Oregon, to MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, for Sunday’s MLS Cup final between the Timbers and the Columbus Crew (4 p.m., ESPN).

The log is traveling on a large truck, and was expected to arrive sometime Saturday. The bad news is the log reportedly will not be allowed inside the stadium, as the Crew is the home team.

It would be a shame if the log can’t be part of the MLS festivities because it is one of the quirkiest and coolest traditions in the league. Team mascot Timber Joey chainsaws off a slab of the log for each Timbers goal and clean sheet. After the game, the slabs are presented to the goal scorers and/or the goalkeeper in front of the Timbers Army fan group, which never seems to tire of the slab presentations.

The Timbers are in the MLS Cup for the first time since joining the league in 2011.

After capturing the 2015 MLS Western Conference Championship with a 5-3 win on aggregate against FC Dallas, the Timbers will face the Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew.

Portland is unbeaten in eight consecutive matches (5-0-3), including five consecutive road matches (4-0-1), dating to a 2-1 win on the road against the Crew on Sept. 26. The Timbers finished the 2015 season tied for the most road wins in the league with seven. The Timbers’ 14 road wins over the past two seasons rank as the most in MLS over that span

Timbers coach Caleb Porter was asked if he thought his team was destined to win, especially after surviving an 11-round, 22-penalty-kick shootout earlier in the playoffs.

“Do I believe in destiny? That’s a deep question,” he said, addressing the media at Friday’s 2015 MLS Cup news conference. “To succeed, you’re going to have to suffer some. But if you’re able hang on and go through the suffering, then you survive. That says everything about our team: We’ve suffered a little bit, we’ve had pressure, it was fair.”

Columbus advanced to the MLS Cup after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Championship series. The No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Crew SC defeated the Montreal Impact 3-1 (4-3 win on aggregate) in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals to advance to the conference championship.

Columbus is led by forward Kei Kamara (22 goals, eight assists) and midfielder Ethan Finlay (12, 13). Goalkeeper Steve Clark had 114 saves and six shutouts during the regular season. The Crew won the title in 2008.

▪ Garber on Miami: MLS commissioner Don Garber, on a state of the league conference call Thursday, was asked whether the David Beckham-led quest for a team in Miami was the most difficult stadium issue he has dealt with during his career.

His answer: “No, the most difficult was in New York with the MetroStars that led to Red Bulls Arena. As we were in that game last weekend, I looked up and it warmed my heart. We’re in the long-term business. It’s very difficult to be the last league in and start developing major urban projects after generations and generations of buildings for all the other leagues.

“I will say the Miami project has been frustrating. But these things take time.”

▪ Leverkusen tweets in English, Spanish: German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, which will play in the Florida Cup in January 2016, is trying to connect with more American fans. As part of that effort, the club launched English and Spanish Twitter accounts.

U.S. Soccer fans can follow Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@Bayer04_en) and get updates on the club and the players, including international superstar Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. There are also plans for a Spanish account.

Who’s leading

EPL: Leicester City and Manchester City (29), Manchester United (28), Arsenal (27), Tottenham (25)

La Liga: Barcelona (33), Atletico Madrid (29), Real Madrid (27), Celta Vigo (24), Deportivo (21)

Serie A: Napoli (31), Inter (30), Fiorentina (29), Roma and Juventus (27)

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (40), Dortmund (32), Wolfsburg (25), Schalke (24), Monchengladbach (23)

Ligue 1: PSG (45), Caen (29), Angers (27), Lyon (26), Nice (25)

On the tube

Sunday: Fiorentina vs. Udinese (8:55 a.m., BeINSport), Newcastle vs. Liverpool (11 a.m., NBCSN), MLS Cup Portland vs. Columbus (4 p.m., ESPN).

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