With Thrilling 3-0 Win, Portland Timbers Clinch Playoff Spot and Break Curse

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With Thrilling 3-0 Win, Portland Timbers Clinch Playoff Spot and Break Curse

Luke Strange, Staff Reporter

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Timbers in the playoffs? In an even year?! It simply just hasn’t happened.

With all the odds against the Portland Timbers, they finally managed to secure a spot in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Ever since the Timbers first made the playoffs in 2013, the curse of the even year always haunted the team. In 2014, the Timbers fell just short of making the playoffs, yet the next year, 2015, the Timbers were crowned MLS Cup Champions. But with an even year next, again the Timbers fell short in 2016.

The 2017 season brought new hope to the team. With an amazing first place finish in the Western Conference, the team had easily secured a playoff spot. Then, with another even year approaching, 2018 brought many doubts to the fans about how the season would turn out. Everyone thought the curse would haunt the team again and our playoff dreams would continues to be non-existent in even years.

But, on Sunday, three players changed all of that against a very desperate Real Salt Lake, leading the Timbers to a thrilling 3-0 win. 

Before coming into the game, the Timbers knew all they needed was just one point to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and break the even-year curse. But with an amazing performance from Steve Clark, the Timbers goalkeeper, they were able to keep a clean sheet and also manage to put three past the RSL defense.

The first half was all Timbers, yet they only managed to put one in the back of the net. Going into halftime, the crowd knew the second half held something special for the team.

RSL came out roaring and eager to find an equalizer, but still couldn’t find a way through the Timbers defense. Save after save, Steve Clark continued to surprise everyone with the number of shots he was stopping. Not much was happening for the Timbers upfront, but that changed in the 68th minute when the Timbers went on a massive counterattack straight through the middle of the RSL defense.

Midfielder Diego Chara made an impressive 50 yard sprint up the field hoping to get on the end of a cross. Usually unrewarded on the attacking part of the game, Chara was very fortunate to find the back of the net for the second time this season. Then, with about 5 minutes left in the match, forward Sebastian Blanco sealed the game with a fantastic left-footed strike into the bottom corner. The Timbers had just punched a ticket into the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs.

Looking ahead to their final game of the season this Sunday, Oct. 28, against their Cascadia rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Timbers are looking to snatch three points on the road in hopes for a better spot in the postseason.

It’s very likely the Timbers will finish in fifth place, and play either FC Dallas or LAFC in the first knockout round. In the past, the only other time the Timbers have played in a knockout round, they ended up winning the league. (Unlike last year when they finished number one in the West and ended up losing to the Houston Dynamo in the conference semi-final.)

In his first year of being the Timbers’ new head coach, Giovanni Savarese did what not many first year coaches can do in this league, and that is reach a playoff spot quite comfortably.

It was “very important for us to clinch a playoff spot,” Savarese said in a post game interview. “I’m extremely proud of everyone in the club, the players, the staff, everyone that worked so hard to accomplish this. Now, one more match to play in Vancouver and then we can talk about the playoffs.”