The Portland Timbers cracked their ticket to the final of the Western Conference with a 1-0 win in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday at the Colorado Rapids.
The very first Major League Soccer Thanksgiving match wasn’t the all-action event many had hoped for as the two defenses came out on top.
Still, both teams had a chance to end the game before Larrys Mabiala’s winning goal in the 90th minute. Cole Bassett, Auston Trusty and Dom Badji all missed Colorado chances in the first half.
Yimmi Chara failed to bring the ball home for the Timbers at the far post in the second half, 20 minutes after Josecarlos Van Rankin cleared an attempt by Danny Wilson from the line.
After the elimination of the top seed in the west, Portland now expects the winner of the other semifinals of the Western Conference, as Sporting Kansas City receives Real Salt Lake. With an SKC win, the Timbers would hit the streets again while hosting RSL at Providence Park.
Here are the full player reviews of Colorado Rapids 0-1 Portland Timbers:
Goalkeeper and defender
Will Yarbrough (TW) – 6 – Wasn’t overly busy but handled everything that got in his way with no problem. Couldn’t do much about Mabiala’s winner.
Lalas Abubakar (CB) – 8 – The Timbers tried several times to suppress Abubakar’s side, but he rose to the challenge with some particularly impressive one-on-one defenses. A criticism? He seemed to be spending way too much time arguing with Timbers players unnecessarily.
Danny Wilson (CB) – 9 – Keeping the Rapids alive by a huge goal-line distance in the 65th minute and a giant in defense the whole time.
Auston Trusty (CB) – 6 – Should have opened the goal within six minutes with a free header from a corner. He made up for that miss with excellent defense, while it proved a useful passing game when the Rapids took advantage of the left flank. Will unfortunately bear part of the blame for the decisive goal.
Full-back and midfielder
Keegan rose berry (RWB) – 5 – Nowhere near as active as Kellyn Acosta on the other hand, but had a few promising moments. Shortly before half an hour I shot a shot just over the crossbar and defended it well enough to the goal. He doesn’t get all of the guilt, but he hasn’t covered himself with fame.
Cole Bassett (CM) – 6 – Got a good chance in the first half, danced through the Timbers defense before facing Steve Clark directly. Faded quickly after the break and an obvious candidate to be replaced in favor of fresh legs.
Jack Price (CM) – 8 – Another standard master class from Price, who was almost flawless again with the ball at his feet.
Kellyn Acosta (LWF) – 8 – It was easily the Rapids’ best way out of the open game and stormed up and down the left flank with endless energy reserves. Gained three chances and also locked at the other end of the field.
Attacking midfielder and striker
Diego Rubio (CAM) – 7 – Test the Portland backline with some direct running and put in plenty of hard yards when the ball has been flipped. Replaced with Namli just after an hour to freshen things up.
Mark-Anthony Kaye (CAM) – 6 – Not his best day, but Kaye had a few good moments and put a lot of work into it. Had to be withdrawn to keep energy levels high.
Dominique Badji (ST) – 6 – Had to work on limited serve but was a willing runner and forced a good save from Clark just before half time. Replaced by Michael Barrios when Fraser tried to change the approach.
Younes Namli (for Rubio, 66 min.) – 4 – Couldn’t open the Timbers Defense the way we know he is capable of opening.
Michael Barrios (for Badji, 75 min.) – 4 – Lost the ball too much and didn’t bring the game to life as expected.
Jonathan Lewis (for Bassett, 75 min.) – 2 – In 15 minutes on the court, he couldn’t touch the ball at all.
Braian Galvan (for Kaye, 82 min.) – 4 – Sending Asprilla away was his only useful contribution.
Goalkeeper and defender
Steve Clark (TW) – 9 – Was honestly the best player over the 90 minutes with a series of big saves. Played the pantomime villain role brilliantly with a bit of a waste of time in the second half which really got under the skin of the Rapids believers.
Jose Carlos Van Rankin (RB) – 5 – Had a tough time against Acosta and missed a huge chance to give the Timbers the lead in the 65th minute.
Larry’s Mabiala (CB) – 9 – Made nine gaps on one end and scored the last minute winner on the other. A great performance by Mabiala, who was the hero of the hour for the Timbers.
Dario Zuparic (CB) – 8 – Made up some huge blocks and interceptions that ultimately proved crucial thanks to Mabiala’s late winner.
Claudio Bravo (LB) – 7 – Had an easier night than Van Rankin defensively which gave him the freedom to push forward and become a nuisance in the final third.
Diego Chara (CM) – 7 – Showed all his experience, reassuring the Timbers when the going got tough and counter-attacking when the Rapids opened.
Cristhian Paredes (CM) – 6 – A few promising moments on the ball and a lot of defensive work.
Attacking midfielder and striker
Yimmi Chara (RW) – 5 – Was pushed back a little by Acosta’s driving runs. Missed a great chance at the far post in the 84th minute but wasn’t too expensive in the end.
Sebastian Blanco (CAM) – 5 – A ranged combat that just went over the bar was as good as it gets for Blanco, utterly wiped out by the Rapids defense. Came off in the 52nd minute with what appeared to be a pulled hamstring. The tears tell you everything you need to know about the possible severity of the injury – you hate to see it.
Dairon Asprilla (LW) – 6 – Actually had a pretty good game, running the Rapids backline and making a couple of dangerous crosses. But will now miss the final of the Western Conference thanks to a ridiculous red card in the end.
Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) – 3 – Totally nonexistent in the first half. His best moment came after the break when he left Van Rankin, whose attempt was cleared off the line. Even then, the Polish striker should have taken the shot because he was in the six-yard area.
Santiago Moreno (for Blanco, 52 min.) – 6 – A good 38-minute cameo from Moreno, who created a few chances and made three interceptions.
Felipe Mora (for Niezgoda, 67 min.) – 6 – Was a far more effective front man than Niezgoda, although he couldn’t test Yarbrough himself.
Marvin Loria (for Y. Chara, 95 min.) – N / A – Raised right at the end to shut down the clock.
George Fochive (for Paredes, 96 min.) – N / A – His two touches of the ball were distances.