COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Diego Valeri scored at the 27-second mark for the fastest goal in MLS Cup history and the Portland Timbers won the league title for the first time, beating the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Sunday.
Rodney Wallace made it 2-0 in the seventh minute, and the Crew's Kei Kamara scored in the 18th off a scramble in front of the goal.
But the early deficit was too much for Columbus to overcome.
Just after the opening whistle, Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp sent a back pass to goalkeeper Steve Clark, who tried to move the ball from his right foot to the left for a clearance. But Clark didn't see Valeri closing and the midfielder poked the ball away from him and into the goal.
The Crew had barely recovered when a mental gaffe gave Portland a controversial second goal.
Crew midfielder Tony Tchani and several teammates stopped playing when the ball rolled several feet over the right boundary. Instead of a stoppage for a throw-in, Portland's Darlington Nagbe kept going with the ball and sent a pass wide to Lucas Melano, who found Wallace for the header.
Kamara, who tied for the MLS regular-season lead with 22 goals, got his fourth in five playoff games with the aid of a poor punch by Timbers goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey.
Kwarasey was bumped by Kamara and the ball spilled in front of the goal. Diego Chara cleared the ball to Crew midfielder Federico Higuain and he fed Kamara for the score.
Portland almost doubled the lead in the 61st, but a shot hit the post and crossbar then the arm of Crew defender Michael Parkhurst.
Even though Portland has been in MLS since 2011, the Timbers as a brand have been in existence for 40 years back to the North American Soccer League. The last time the Timbers played for a championship was a loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 1975 NASL Cup.
GOING FOR TWO
Columbus is founding member (1996) of MLS. It won its only championship in 2008, beating the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in Carson, Calif.
Several members of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets attended the game to show support for their professional brethren. Forward Alexander Wennberg said the busy hockey schedule prevented him from going to a match but he and other Blue Jackets followed the MLS playoffs online.
Photo: Paul Vernon/AP