Rapids clinch MLS playoff berth with 1-0 win over Timbers

·3 min read

Kellyn Acosta scored in the 83rd minute and the Colorado Rapids clinched a playoff spot with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.

The Rapids (7-6-4) had five games called off this season because of coronavirus cases. But instead of total points, Major League Soccer decided to use points per game for playoff position, boosting Colorado's chances with fewer games played.

It is Colorado's first trip to the playoffs since 2016. The Rapids closed in on a post-season berth after a 3-1 win at home against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

“I mean, we’re definitely satisfied with the result, but I think we’re also happy with the work we put in, not only today, but last game as well,” Acosta said. “I mean, the guys in that last game went into this game and played a lot of minutes. But you can see that we’re building and we have something special going on here.”

Steve Clark made three saves for Portland (11-6-5), unbeaten in its previous four games — including wins in the past two. Portland closes out the regular season on Sunday at LAFC.

The Timbers went into the match as the top team in the Western Conference but fell into second place in the standings behind Sporting Kansas City with the loss. The defending champion Sounders, after a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, were in third.

The Rapids, seventh in the West, wrap up the season Sunday against the Dynamo in Houston.

Portland was hurt by the loss of Jaroslaw Niezgoda, who tore his left ACL in a 1-0 victory over Vancouver last weekend. Niezgoda, who had eight goals, will miss the rest of the season.

It was the second significant knee injury for the Timbers this season. In September, forward Sebastian Blanco tore his right ACL. Blanco was the MVP of this summer's MLS is Back tournament in Florida.

Portland was also without forward Jeremy Ebobisse for the fourth straight game because of a concussion.

“I think the fact that we didn’t get the result today was more about us not being the best version of ourselves than anything else. Nothing to take away from Colorado because I think they worked very hard to get the result that they got. They sacrificed and they understood the importance of winning this game,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “But I think it’s more about what we didn’t do, and that we show the best side of us.”

The Rapids were initially awarded a penalty in the 15th minute when the ball hit Bill Tuiloma’s hand after coming off his foot, but the call was overturned by video review.

After a scoreless first half, Acosta came off the bench and broke through for his second goal of the season.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the playoffs, I was more thinking about getting the result. We went up 1-0 and I’m thinking we’ve got to do whatever we can to finish this game off, get the shutout and close the game out," Acosta said. "So for me, it hasn’t settled until now. I mean, this is a big moment for us as players, for the fans, the organization.”

It was the 14th goal allowed in the final 15 minutes of a game for Portland this season.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press