Thirty-eight years and one week after the Portland Timbers played in their only league championship game, the Portland Thorns finally gave the Rose City a top flight professional soccer title. The 2-0 victory over Western New York Flash on Saturday in Rochester was delivered through two very well taken goals, the first by Tobin Heath and the second, in injury time, by Christine Sinclair. These goals are eerily similar to the two goals scored by the Tampa Bay Rowdies to defeat the Timbers in Soccer Bowl '75.
For starters, let's establish that the goals are not exactly the same. Heath's stunning free kick was, first and foremost, a free kick. It also came in the 40th minute, whereas the first Rowdies goal did not come until the 66th minute. Likewise, Sinclair's clinching goal came from the right side in injury time while Tampa's second goal came from the left in the 88th minute.
Now that the differences are out of the way, let's look at the similarities. Heath's free kick goal came from almost exactly the same spot on the field where Arsene Auguste smashed home his famous goal for Tampa. While it was not a free kick, Auguste's goal was hammered just above the reach of Timbers goalkeeper Graham Brown, just as Heath's rocketed past Flash keeper Adrianna Flash.
Sinclair's goal came as she beat an offside trap, angled to the right and beat the goalkeeper to the far post. Though Clyde Best's goal for Tampa came from the left (and thanks to the different rules in place in the NASL at the time, with a 35-yard offside line), the resulting goal was nearly identical.
Clearly the Thorns' victory is not all about the Timbers. Their victory stands alone and is an accomplishment sorely absent from thirty-eight years and twenty-three seasons of Timbers soccer. But the ways Heath and Sinclair scored in the 2-0 championship game win evoke the memories of an opportunity lost back in 1975.
Let's look at the videos to see just how similar the goals were: