The Major League Soccer (MLS) is Back Tournament has successfully reached the final phase amid threats of the coronavirus pandemic. The final of the tournament is scheduled for August 11, 2020, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, United States of America.
Interestingly the final is between Orlando City and Portland Timbers, two teams that were underdogs at the beginning of the tournament. The winner of the tournament would automatically qualify for the 2020-2021 Concacaf Champions League and win a trophy plus $1.1 million in prize pool money via additional bonuses.
How Portland Timbers made it to MLS is Back final
Portland Timbers came into the tournament with the hope of making a statement and they did that convincingly. They faced some of the strongest clubs in MLS in Group F including LA Galaxy and were able to finish top of the group.
The Portland met a more difficult opposition in the round of 16 as it was only through penalty shootout that they were able to scale through FC Cincinnati to get to the quarter-final stage. They continued with their unbeaten run when they knocked out NYCFC in the quarter-final and then knocked out Philadelphia to set-up a date with Orlando City in the MLS final on Tuesday, August 11.
The best players for Portland’s coach Giovanni Savarese so far in the tournament include Jeremy Ebobisse who has scored 4 goals in the tournament and Sebastian Blanco who has scored 3 goals so far.
How you feeling, @TimbersFC fans? pic.twitter.com/WChSuZJti3— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 6, 2020
How Orlando City made it to MLS is Back final
Throughout the MLS is Back Tournament, Orlando City have been described as the surprising team of the tournament because they have never gone so far in any MLS tournament since they joined the league in 2015.
The club that has hugely enjoyed the privilege of playing not too far from home, passed through some of the most difficult opponents to get to the final of the MLS is Back Tournament. They triumph over the number one Eastern conference club NYCFC, 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia and then beat Minnesota United 3-1 in the semi-final on Thursday to get to the final.
Based on Orlando’s success in the tournament so far, the new head coach of the club, Oscar Pareja would have the club’s captain and former Manchester United forward Nani to thank. The Portuguese footballer has been the best player in the squad as he has scored three goals and made three assists in the club’s 6 matches in the tournament.
Oscar will depend on Nani to lead the team to their first silverware as a team that has been so unfortunate since joining the MLS 5 years ago.
How we feeling, @OrlandoCitySC fans? 😈 pic.twitter.com/aUJAiuwZPx— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 7, 2020
Head-to-Head: Portland Timbers vs Orlando City SC
Though Orlando City is just five years old in the MLS, they have seen more good days against Portland Timbers. In those past 5 years, Orlando played Portland 5 times, one each in the last five seasons as inter-conference opponents.
In those five meetings, Orlando won three of them, lost one, and drew only one. They have scored 10 goals in the last five meetings as against Portland’s 7 goals.
Here is the timeline of their last 5 meetings since Orlando joined MLS in 2015:
April 12, 2015: Portland 0, Orlando 2
April 3, 2016: Orlando 4, Portland 1
Sept. 24, 2017: Portland 3, Orlando 0
April 8, 2018: Orlando 3, Portland 2
July 18, 2019: Portland 1, Orlando 1