Dairon Asprilla scored an instant AT&T Goal of the Year contender and the Portland Timbers took a big step toward clinching their place in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, while officially eliminating the San Jose Earthquakes from contention, with a 2-0 victory Wednesday night at Providence Park.

Asprilla scored a stunning bicycle kick from outside the box 10 minutes into the second half to leave mouths agape and effectively clinch a vital three points for the Timbers following Diego Chara's first-half opener. The win sees Portland strengthen their grasp on fourth place and a home Round One playoff game while also edging them closer to securing a place in the postseason, holding a four-point gap to eighth place.

San Jose, who needed a win to keep their own slim playoff hopes alive, had their opportunities early. Former Timber Jeremy Ebobisse, making his first return to Providence Park, twice went close, missing the target and then forcing a save from Steve Clark. Meanwhile, Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez almost pulled off his own miraculous goal with an effort from well inside his own half that forced Clark to scramble back and claw the ball away.

But the Timbers soon found their groove and on 34 minutes had the lead. After a neat interchange of passes and movement in and around the box featuring Yimmi Chara and Bill Tuiloma, Felipe Mora sent in a low cross from the right and Diego Chara stretched a toe onto the ball for a shot that deflected off Tommy Thompson and into the Quakes net.

Portland could well have extended their lead before the halftime interval. San Jose goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, though, had other ideas, pulling off a spectacular save to deny Yimmi Chara after a scramble in front of goal.

But the highlight of the game and one of the moments of the season was about to arrive in the 55th minute. Marcinkowski came racing out of his goal but could only spoon the ball out of his area. Still, the immediate danger appeared to have been averted as Asprilla gathered the ball with his back to goal toward the top corner of the box. Instead, MLS' very own Mr. October knocked the ball up for himself and then went airborne to execute a looping bicycle kick that would have made even Zlatan Ibrahimovic proud.

Remarkably, the game almost had another AT&T Goal of the Year contender when substitute Sebastian Blanco slalomed his way through what seemed like the entire Quakes defense before seeing his effort blocked on the line. Josecarlos Van Rankin then fired the rebound off the crossbar to keep the scoreline at 2-0.

But Asprilla's spectacular effort was more than enough to give Portland the win and leave the Timbers fans in attendance forever able to say, "I was there."

Goals

  • 34' — POR — Diego Chara | WATCH
  • 55' — POR — Dairon Asprilla | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: After three straight defeats threatened to derail their previously rock-solid-looking playoff aspirations, this was a vital win for the Timbers. The manner of the performance will add to Giovanni Savarese's smile after Wednesday's 90 minutes, before his team head to take on Real Salt Lake in a week's time with a chance to secure their playoff place. For San Jose, the damage had already been done but this result confirms they'll miss the playoffs for the second time in three years under Matias Almeyda.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Must you ask? This Asprilla goal will be shown for years to come.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: The Chara brothers, Felipe Mora and Steve Clark all have a claim to the honor but when you score a goal like that, Asprilla deserves to get Man of the Match. And proving he's been a lot more than Mr. October for the Timbers this year, it was also the Colombian's 10th goal of the season.

Next Up

  • POR: Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Real Salt Lake | 10 pm ET (ESPN2)
  • SJ: Saturday, Oct. 30 at Real Salt Lake | 3:30 pm ET (Univision, TUDN, Twitter)