MLS Playoffs: Portland spoils Rapids' big day

The Colorado Rapids finished in first place in MLS's Western Conference for the first time in 26 MLS seasons, drawing a first-round bye in the playoffs and a home date in the conference semifinals.

Playing before a national television for MLS's first Thanksgiving Day game and their largest home crowd in more than two years, the Rapids were looking to show off what head coach Robin Fraser has quietly accomplished over the last two years.

Colorado dominated the first half, but it then allowed the Timbers little by little to grow into the game. The match appeared to be headed to overtime when defender Larrys Mabialascored in the 90th minute to give Portland a 1-0 win.

"I think we lost a little bit of control, which also helped them gain confidence and grow into the game," said Fraser. "In the end, obviously they were able to convert on a set piece late, and for us, it seemed like we knocked on the door several times but couldn’t quite get in and here we sit."

He said the atmosphere was the best ever for a Rapids' home game since he took over as head coach in 2019 or before then when he's been at Dick's Sporting Goods Park with other MLS teams.

“They were phenomenal," he said "We heard them the whole way. We would’ve loved to have given them something more to cheer about, but it was the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen inside the stadium.”

The Rapids not only had the advantage of the home support, but it was 18 days between games compared to four for the Timbers, who beat Minnesota United, 3-1, on Sunday.

“You're trying to get used to the altitude," said Mabiala, who also scored against Minnesota United, "and we play, on top of that, four days ago, so it wasn't easy to really come in the first half and be as sharp and as precise as we wanted to be. So we just wanted to not concede in the first half, to go back to the locker room at halftime, make some adjustments.”

Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said Colorado was the better team in the first half.

“We adjusted to close their space and be better with the ball," he said. "We knew we would be able to find moments to create opportunities. In the second half, it was the patience we had to build up, dribble inside and connect.”

Portland will play in the Western Conference final for the fourth time in 11 years -- Sporting KC hosts Real Salt Lake in the other semifinal on Sunday -- but it will be without Dairon Asprilla, who picked up a red card in second-half stoppage time, and likely Sebastian Blanco, the hero of the Round One win with two goals. The Argentine left the game in tears the 50th minute with an injury to his heavily taped left leg.

“We will wait and see where he’s at," said Savarese, "but it doesn’t look good.

Nov. 25 in Commerce City, Colo.
Colorado 0 Portland 1. Goal: Mabiala 90.
Colorado -- Yarbrough, Wilson, Trusty, Abubakar, Rosenberry, Kaye (Galvin 83), Price, Acosta, Bassett (Lewis 75), Rubio (Namli 67), Badji (Barrios 75).
Portland -- Clark, Van Rankin, Mabiala, Zuparic, Bravo, D.Chara, Paredes (Fochive 90+6), Y.Chara (Loria 90+5), Blanco (Moreno 52), Asprilla, Niezgoda (Mora, 66)
Red card: Portland -- Asprilla 90+4.
Att: 17,438.

1 comment about "MLS Playoffs: Portland spoils Rapids' big day".
  1. beautiful game, November 26, 2021 at 1:18 p.m.

    Watched the second half and the soccer gods were not kind to the Rapids. As tense as this game was for both sides, the man in the middle did a great in keeping the game moving on numerous tactical or blatant tripping fouls which by LOTG mandated caution(s). The hackers were rewarded.

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