Even as the Portland Timbers maintained their focus on the task before them, completing a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes that sent them to fourth place in the Western Conference standings, they immediately appreciated that they had witnessed something great, even historic.
"Goal of the Year – that’s it," declared Timbers manager Giovanni Savarese. "I mean, unbelievable goal. He played very well. I think, if I’m not mistaken, his 10th of the year. Amazing, amazing and very important especially because it gave us the possibility to have the second goal which was much-needed."
Savarese was correct on all fronts. It was Asprilla's 10th as he continues to build on a career-high during a breakout campaign. And it effectively sealed a three-point evening that took the Timbers to the precipice of clinching an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs spot while snapping a three-match losing skid.
For the 29-year-old Colombian, the 55th-minute strike was more personal, a tribute to his recently departed father, whose image adorns a shirt he wears under his jersey.
"I thought a lot about my dad when I scored that goal," he said through an interpreter. "Just with all the adversity and how hard last year and 2020 was, I think that gave me strength to score a goal like that.
Displaying the undershirt, he added: "I have my superhero, I’m wearing my superhero right here. He has been an example for me always since the beginning, and it says right here only you know how incredible it was to be your son. Love you, Dad."
Wednesday's goal may have been a once-in-a-career kind of moment. But it also re-emphasized the newfound consistency the attacker has displayed in a year when Portland desperately needed it.
Asprilla is the only Timbers player to appear in all 32 league matches for a club that's been upended by injuries, especially early in the year. Such a feat may have been hard to imagine in the recent past, considering he spent parts of 2018 and 2019 shuttling between the Timbers and Timbers 2 of the USL Championship.
But now Portland's Mr. October, a player who's been with the club since 2015 and developed a big-moment reputation (especially in the playoffs), is showing his quality.
"Asprilla’s been having a very good year because we have said it many times, he has matured," Savarese said. "He’s working, he’s giving us what we need. He’s been very constant and not only in the work that he has put in being important as a player to give us so many different things, but especially as I said before that he’s been prolific in scoring goals.
"And the goal today, that would be a Goal of the Year. He’s tried a few times in practice and finally he pulled it off in this game."