After finishing with eight men against Portland Timbers in our final match of the league season, we headed into the play-offs… against Portland Timbers, minus the three suspended players of course.
After soaking up ten minutes of pressure, in-form frontman Omar Kharbin put us ahead with his ninth net bulger of the campaign. Wideman Carlos Fierro made it three in three for him personally, as we doubled our lead before half-time. Reuven Niemeijer and Andres Rios made it three and four nil respectively. It really should’ve been five or six!
In the next knockout encounter, Carlos Vela missed an early penalty for LAFC before we wasted a host of chances ourselves. Thato Mokeke, restored to the starting line-up at the expense of the unfortunate Judson, chose the big occasion to bag his first goal for the club. Andres Rios came off the bench again to score once more, his sixteenth strike of the season.
Against Seattle Sounders in the semi-final, Cristian Espinoza fired in right on the stroke of half-time and that strike would ultimately to send us to the final!
With players possibly overawed by the ocassion, it was a patchy start to the final. However… Andres Rios won and converted a penalty late in the first half then scored a stunning second with fifteen minutes to go. It was his eighteenth goal of a wonderful season for him and the team. Despite Columbus netting a late late consolation, we held on to win the MLS Cup in my first season in charge. I couldn’t have asked for any more. Now we have to back it up next season!