In their Providence Park regular season finale, the Portland Timbers fell to the Colorado Rapids 1-0, dropping out of first place in the Western Conference. Kellyn Acosta had the lone goal that sunk Portland.
Portland rotated pretty heavily for tonight’s match, giving a lot of the usual faces on match day a rest. Diego Valeri, Larrys Mabiala, Jorge Villafana, and Yimmi Chara were on the bench to start this one, and Jeremy Ebobisse missed his fourth straight match with a concussion. Also, Dairon Asprilla returned to the lineup tonight, with Mr. November himself recovering quicker than usual from what they thought initially was a season-ending knee injury. He began on the bench but did make an appearance towards the end of the match.
With the rotated lineup, it was a bit of a question how exactly Portland would try to generate opportunities. The early chances seem to come most often on the counter-attack, with the Timbers looking to push quickly after either a Colorado turnover or failed attempt. The recipe was simple: Get the ball and run. It was a recipe that didn’t always pan out.
Colorado dominated possession in the first half, and for the most part it seemed like Portland weren’t too worried about that. The Timbers were more than happy to let the Rapids win the possession battle as long as they could take advantage of Colorado’s mistakes in the final third. The long ball was providing mixed results for the Rapids, but it was good enough to give Portland some scares early on.
But as the half wore on, opportunities became more and more plentiful for Colorado. The Rapids pressed high and tried to take advantage of sloppy Timbers soccer. Portland looked hurried whenever they got the ball in the final third and Colorado took advantage whenever possible. The Rapids won duels and tackles for the half and earned numerous set pieces. Luckily for Portland, they escaped into the half with a 0-0 scoreline.
Portland made a substitution at the half, bringing Yimmi Chara on for Andres Flores in hopes of jumpstarting the offense. That resurgence didn’t happen right away. While Chara did bring more speed out onto the pitch, it didn’t result right away in positive offensive possessions.
It wasn’t until Diego Valeri subbed in during the 55th minute to take a free kick that the offense started to flow better. Valeri was able to direct the offense better than Eryk Williamson — who Valeri subbed on for — and the result was more chances in the attacking third.
While it started to look better in the second half, it was not all positive. Diego Chara in the 49th minute earned his eighth yellow card. With that, he will not be available for the match on Decision Day against LAFC on Sunday.
Even though the offense was doing better as the match progressed, the defense had the costly mistake that cost them the game. In the 83rd minute, Colorado took the ball in their half after dispossessing Portland and got the ball to Kellyn Acosta. The midfielder took the ball and launched it into the top-right corner of the goal. That goal made it 1-0 Colorado.
After rebounding from a less than ideal first half with a solid second half, Portland was sunk by something that has cost them all year long: Goals allowed in the final 15 minutes of the match. And this time it cost them first place. The Timbers dropped out of the pole position with the 1-0 loss.
The Timbers will play their final regular season match on MLS Decision Day this Sunday. They’ll face off against LAFC with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Pacific.