COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ethan Finlay spoke to the press on Monday with an an air of hubris.
“I think we match up really well with them defensively,” said Finlay in the lead up to the final. “I love my matchup with [Jorge] Villafana.”
The Columbus Crew winger had to eat his words on Sunday, though, as the Timbers’ right back shut down Finlay completely. Villafana spoke about his SBI Man of the Match-winning performance postgame.
“I thought that he was going to eat his words,” Villafana told SBI. “At the end, we are the champions and they don’t get anything.”
“I knew early in the week that I didn’t have to say a word to Jorge, and that was great for me because I knew he’d read articles,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter told the press postgame. “I knew he’d be up for it, he’s a competitive kid, Jorge, and if you challenge him he’s going to step up even more. I thought he was exceptional today, and he has been all year.”
Here are some more notes following Sunday’s MLS Cup final:
KAMARA OPENS UP ABOUT INJURY
Kei Kamara suffered an injury to his right leg in practice on Saturday morning, putting his status in question for the MLS Cup final against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. The Crew front man says he was always going to be starting, though.
“To be honest, I didn’t really worry about it at all,” said Kamara on his injury. “Now, you feel sore, but that was nothing that was going to stop me. If the doctors tried to stop me from playing tonight, that wasn’t going to stop me.
“It was all about resting and telling myself that I don’t care what happens. You’re not going to stop me. I’ve had other stuff happen to me all year and, trust me, nothing was stopping me. ”
The Sierra Leone striker expressed obvious disappointment in the loss, but was able to put a positive spin on what the Crew achieved this season.
“It was a year about really fighting and grinding and trying to win that trophy,” said Kamara. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but you can’t be so disappointed about the whole thing because it was an amazing year. Last night or tonight or tomorrow night, it was always going to be about how amazing we played this year.”
VALERI PROUD TO BATTLE BACK TO CLAIM MVP
Diego Valeri scored the fastest goal in MLS Cup history on Sunday, paving the way for himself to be named the MVP of the match by Major League Soccer.
“This is special for me,” said Valeri after the match. “For me, it was a long, long year. I worked hard, I got my second ACL [tear] in my life. I knew that this could happen when you work hard, when you sacrifice. This is special and I will keep this in my heart.”
The Argentine playmaker pounced on an early mistake by Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark for a 1-0 lead, ironically coming just two weeks after Columbus scored a goal in nine seconds in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We knew that the aggressiveness in the first 20 minutes from us has to be there, we tried to press them because of the situations they create come from their backline,” said Valeri after the match. “It was about the aggressiveness and the pressure that we put on the backline.”
But it wasn’t the goal itself that earned Valeri the individual award, and Portland head coach Caleb Porter said it best.
“The first goal came for Valeri pressing, defending is not his strength always but he wants to win,” said Porter postgame. “And when guys want to win, I think it just comes down to that.”