Portland Timbers defeat Minnesota Loons during Western Conference playoffs
On Nov. 21, the Portland Timbers, who ended their regular season 4th place in the Western Conference, prepared to take on the Minnesota Loons, who ended in 5th place, for the first game of the Western Conference MLS playoffs in Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. Having lost both regular season games against Minnesota, the stakes and anticipation of the Timbers locking in a spot to advanced were high.
The game began at 2:30 p.m. with Minnesota taking the kick off. They started with strong possession of the ball, eventually leading them to score the opening goal made by Franco Fragapane with an assist from Romain Métanire during the 11th minute. The game continued with many corner and penalty kicks lined up to make a goal each time. While both teams were playing equally strong defense on their sides, the first half gained an extra four minutes of stoppage time during which Larrys Mabiala secured a goal with the assistance of Sebastián Blanco. The two teams were tied at half time.
The second half of the game brought anticipation and worry for Timber’s since supporters late in the first half of the game, midfielder Sebastián Blanco was fouled on, causing him to hit the ground. He had recently had a knee injury, and it didn’t look good as the medical team in the field requested a stretcher. Fortunately, Blanco was able to walk himself off the field and was returned for the second half. He got quick vengeance scoring the Timbers’ second goal of the night during the 46th minute.
With Minnesota having possession for 53% of the game, Timber’s goalkeeper Steve Clark was on guard and blocked out numerous attempted shots. Game play was maintained with even stronger defense from both teams. It wasn’t until the 66th minute of the game that Timbers scored their 3rd goal of the night. Scored again by Blanco with an assist from José Van Rankin, this left Blanco with the opportunity for a hat trick.
Ultimately, the game ended with an additional six minutes of stoppage time, with Timbers locking in the advancement for the playoffs and ending the season for Minnesota. The next game will be at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2021, against Real Salt Lake at Providence Park.