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It Never Was Right for Columbus Crew SC in MLS Cup 2015

The Black & Gold didn't have it Sunday when it mattered the most.

An MLS Cup shocker. That's what occurred on Sunday evening in Columbus.

It wasn't the 2-1 result, the Portland Timbers were a good team and a hot team and came to play and earn their first MLS Cup trophy, but how it happened.

Twenty-seven seconds was all that was needed for the Timbers to go up one on Columbus Crew SC thanks to Diego Valeri's block on goalkeeper Steve Clark's clearance that redirected into the net.

Seven minutes was all it took for Portland to solidify the lead, scoring the eventual game winner that forced captain Michael Parkhurst to gather his team in the middle of the field while the Timbers celebrated the goal and give them a quick lecture.

"When it was 2-0, I said, ‘Hey, this is not how our season's going to end. We need to stick together here and move on,'" he said following the loss.

Columbus scored late in the first half to pull one back, but the feeling was never right. From that opening goal to the first 25 minutes of play, Crew SC never looked like Crew SC.

"I think you could see a little bit of nerves," head coach Gregg Berhalter admitted.

"The start wasn't good, the start was certainly not good."

There were moments when the Black & Gold moved the ball around like they normally do, but the Timbers were constantly there to break up the play.

Whether it was offensively or defensively, Darlington Nagbe was the best player on the field. He was constantly causing issues for Crew SC defenders and attackers and it's only because he wasn't on the score sheet that he wasn't given the Most Valuable Player trophy.

For a team that scored 58 goals in the regular season and six more in the playoffs leading up to MLS Cup, Columbus could only muster one shot on goal for the night.

"That's the funny thing about soccer," Berhalter said. "I think that there's chances and there's half-chances and I think we were close. There weren't many clear-cut chances, that's for sure, and give Portland a lot of credit."

The Timbers deserve credit, but the Black & Gold deserve blame. After so successfully altering their style against the New York Red Bulls to knock the Supporter's Shield winners out of the playoffs, Crew SC couldn't get it back to their normal style of play when it mattered the most.

"I think we could have been more methodical getting the ball to the flanks and penetrating and getting crosses in," Berhalter said. "I think it's difficult. You're down 2-0, you want to stick to the plan and it's difficult sometimes. Overall I think we could have moved the ball much quicker over to the wing area and got the ball in the box or looked to penetrate deep. We didn't do that effectively."

As we've seen with this team in the past, there are days when the possession, attacking style works really well, but other times when the team can't turn it on.

Sunday was one of those days.

You can blame the officials who may have missed some calls. You can blame Steve Clark or Tony Tchani. Blame whatever you want for the loss, but ultimately soccer is a team game.

On Dec. 6, Portland was the better team. That's why they are champions.