Major League Soccer - Providence Park
10/25/2015 4:00pm: Light Rain, 14C/55F
Pre-game records: Portland Timbers (W14-D8-L11-50pts) vs. Colorado Rapids (W9-D10-L14-37pts)
Portland Timbers – GLK Adam Larsen Kwarasey, DEF Alves Powell, DEF Liam Ridgewell, DEF Nat Borchers, DEF Jorge Villafana, MID Diego Chara, MID George Fochive, MID Darlington Nagbe, FOR Lucas Melano, FOR Rodney Wallace, FWD Fanendo Adi. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
Colorado Rapids: GLK, Zac MacMath, DEF Maynor Figueroa, DEF Sean St. Ledger, DEF Axel Sjoberg, DEF Marlon Hairston, MID Lucas Pittinari, MID Marcelo Sarvas, MID Dillon Powers, MID Dominique Badji, MID Luis Solignac, FWD Kevin Doyle. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
The final regular game of the season was to be played at the Rose City and things could not have been more up for grabs for the Portland Timbers. A win and they would be guaranteed a spot in the play-offs with the possibility of skipping the first round should neither the LA Galaxy nor Vancouver Whitecaps win their matches, a draw would ensure a play-off spot but be likely to be drawn away in the one off game, but a defeat may have seen the Timbers slip back out of the play-offs if Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC, and San Jose Earthquakes all won their games.
Colorado had very little but end of season pride to play for and their only change from their last time out winning at Sporting KC was to bring in Marcelo Sarvas for Sam Cronin but the Timbers had everything on the line for the season and their excellent road wins at Real Salt Lake (1-0) and the LA Galaxy (an amazing 5-2), Caleb Porter would have hoped to stick to the winning formation of 4-3-3 that he had switched to with only Diego Chara holding in midfield but the suspension to Diego Valeri influenced his decision to go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that the home side usually play. George Fochive slotted into midfield next to Diego Chara with Lucas Melano and Rodney Wallace playing wide and Darlington Nagbe taking the central attacking midfield position behind Fanendo Adi.
The rain was belting down at Providence Park for one of the few times this season and with the surface slick, this had all the ingredients to be a game about guts and thunder possibly more than skill. 21,000 fans crammed into the ground as they have done for every game this season, it was expected that the home fans would be partying by 6pm local time but the Colorado Rapids were hoping to spoil the celebrations.
1 min: Straight into the first attack and Darlington Nagbe wins a free kick from 40 yards out. Floated into the penalty area and Nat Borchers caused problems as head performed some head tennis but Rapids keeper tipped Adi’s final header around the post. Liam Ridgewell got his head to the corner but his attempt went just over the crossbar. The home side looked up for this one.
GOAL!! 4 mins: Darlington Nagbe looking hungry for this game won a free kick 25 yards from goal and took the free kick himself. He powered it straight over the wall and MacMath completely misjudged it and it nestled in the back of the net. Portland Timbers 1-0 Colorado Rapids.
GOAL!! 13 mins: After little pressure from the away side, there was some mix up in the Portland defense and Borchers made a poor clearance that resulted in a clear shot for Dominique Badji whose shot deflects off Liam Ridgewell and sails into the back of the net. The home side sat back after scoring and paid the price. Portland Timbers 1-1 Colorado Rapids.
19 mins: Colorado are not here to just lie down as both Kevin Doyle and Maynor Figueroa have decent attempts on goal with Doyle hitting the post. Kwarasey relieved to see the ball go out for a corner. Very nervy play from the home side and the party atmosphere was suddenly turning to nerve-jangling tension.
26 mins: Some very nice interplay between Nagbe and Adi. Nagbe slipped the ball through for the onrushing Melano but his first touch was just too firm and ran through to MacMath. A difficult take to be fair. Portland were beginning to obtain the upper hand again after a poor 15 minute spell after scoring.
GOAL!! 33 mins: Some lovely play between Fanendo Adi who brought down the ball and slipped it wide to Melano whose curled cross found the head of Darlington Nagbe and it was the deftest of headers that flew into the bottom corner giving MacMath little chance. World class from Nagbe and his first brace in 3 and a half years. Portland Timbers 2-1 Colorado Rapids.
45 mins: Into stoppage time in the first half and Alves Powell cleared before Kevin Doyle could get to a free shot with Kwarasey down after misjudging the low cross from Solignac. A nervy end to the half for the home side as Colorado
Half Time Decision Day Update: As things stood the Portland Timbers (53pts) would finish in 2nd place with LA Galaxy (52pts) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (51pts) drawing their games.
Half Time Score: Portland Timbers 2-1 Colorado Rapids
Shots: Portland Timbers 5 (3) – 6 (2) Colorado Rapids
Possession: Portland Timbers 58%-42% Colorado Rapids
49 mins: After a battling first half from Diego Chara who was clearly struggling at the end of the half, he had to come off injured within 4 minutes of the 2nd half and Jack Jewsbury came into the game for him. Now with no Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, or Diego Chara on the pitch, the backup players were going to have to put in a real shift to see off a dangerous Colorado Rapids.
GOAL!! 62 mins: Some true persistence and brilliance from Darlington Nagbe who swapped one-twos with 3 separate players and his final pass was to Jorge Villafana who hit it low and it deflected into the bottom corner of the net. News also came through that the Vancouver Whitecaps had taken the lead against Houston and that would put Vancouver into 2nd place and Portland into 3rd. Portland Timbers 3-1 Colorado Rapids.
73 mins: In the Darlington Nagbe show, he takes the ball all the way from just outside his own penalty area to the edge of the opposing box and slipped the ball wide to Asprilla who hit one from the right corner of the box only to see it hit the post and fall right into the arms of Colorado keeper MacMath. Nagbe had been quite amazing in this match.
80 mins: Jewsbury found a decent pass to substitute Asprilla who charged up the wing and slid the ball wider to Adi but his cross was poor and deflected back off himself and out for a goal kick. Providence Park was quite literally a party by this time and the fans were singing and dancing as they should because winning your last 3 games when it really matters, including one at the LA Galaxy takes some doing.
GOAL!! 86 mins: The goal to finish the game and of course Fanendo Adi had to get onto the scoresheet. A fine run out wide right from Asprilla who whipped in a low cross and Adi almost had no idea how it had hit him but it went over the line before the Colorado defense could clear the ball. This had been one excellent display from the home side as the home fans began to sing “I can’t help falling in love with you”. Portland Timbers 4-1 Colorado Rapids.
Full Time Score: Portland Timbers 4-1 Colorado Rapids
Shots: Portland Timbers 9 (5)–8 (2) Colorado Rapids
Possession: Portland Timbers 51% – 49% Colorado Rapids
MOTM: Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) He had a magnificent game with 2 goals and an assist plus wonderful skill moves galore. US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann should be in touch very soon.
That was as exciting a performance that I have seen from any player since I started watching the Portland Timbers 5 years ago. Darlington Nagbe was involved in everything and showed USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann just what he is capable of. 2 goals from him and an assist along with some sublime touches. The whole team played their part though and other mentions go to Fanendo Adi who performed excellent hold up play once again and the defense was solid throughout the game with Villafana and Powell supporting well too. George Fochive looked like a natural alongside Diego Chara and ol’ salty dog Jack Jewsbury took over from Chara well when he had to go off injured.
Portland now face Sporting KC in the play-off round at home after finishing in 3rd
place in the Western Conference. Quite an achievement considering they were sitting just outside the top 6 with 3 games to go. Coach Porter will be delighted with his team’s performance and believe that this team can go on to play either the LA Galaxy or Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals.