Larrys Mabiala's 90th-minute goal helped the Portland Timbers reach the Western Conference Final of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs in dramatic fashion, defeating the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Thursday in the first-ever MLS game on Thanksgiving Day.

Portland overcame an injury to star midfielder Sebastian Blanco early in the second half before Mabiala netted his second goal of the postseason just prior to stoppage time to seal the Timbers' victory, setting up a date with the winner of Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake next weekend.

The Timbers were actually fortunate to reach the halftime break with a 0-0 scoreline intact after both Auston Trusty and Dominique Badji couldn't convert open headers early on for the Rapids.

And the challenge became even tougher for Portland when they lost Blanco to an apparent hamstring injury just seven minutes into the second half; the Argentine midfielder left the game in some obvious discomfort, clutching the back of his leg.

However, Portland responded well and in the 65th minute, they came within inches of shocking the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. A shot from José Van Rankin was miraculously cleared off the line by Danny Wilson, much to the delight of Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who was beaten on the play.

The Timbers continued to press forward, and in the 90th minute, Portland's effort paid dividends when a scrambled corner kick was eventually pounced on by Mabiala. The Congolese center back made it 1-0, sending the visitors into the next round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Putting a slight damper on a special occasion, Portland forward Dairon Asprilla was shown a red card for violent conduct following a skirmish with Braian Galván in stoppage time, meaning he'll miss the Western Conference Final.

Goals

  • 90' – POR – Larrys Mabiala | WATCH
  • THE BIG PICTURE: Giovanni Savarese deserves a lot of credit for Thursday’s win. After a slow start, he made the adjustments necessary and Portland looked like a completely different side after the halftime break – even following the loss of Sebastian Blanco. The question now is just how far can the Timbers go if Blanco (and Dairon Asprilla) are forced to miss next weekend’s clash? For Colorado, their dream season comes to a disappointing end. For Robin Fraser, there’s still plenty to be proud of after they secured the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. Their supporters showed up in force, too, creating a special atmosphere for MLS' Thanksgiving debut. That, though, will make the pill of defeat even tougher to swallow.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Is there any question? Larrys Mabiala's dramatic winner will be remembered around Portland for years to come.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: There are quite a few worthy candidates, but perhaps none more so than Yimmi Chará, who really stepped up after the loss of Blanco. He was an engine for the Timbers and finished with a game-high three shots and 0.87 xG+xA.

Next Up

  • POR: Western Conference Final vs. TBD | Date TBD
  • COL: End of 2021 season