CARSON, Calif. — The Portland Timbers put an exclamation point on their regular season, and put themselves in the best possible spot entering the Major League Soccer playoffs with a 5-0 win over Chivas USA on Saturday.
First-half magic from Diego Valeri put the Timbers ahead 3-0, and the Timbers (14 wins, five losses, 15 ties for 57 points) scored two more in the second half to lock up first place in the Western Conference.
“We don’t want to celebrate or reflect too much, because honestly we’re focused on not just being in the playoffs, but we want to win it all,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “I think we’ve got a bunch of guys in that locker room that believe we have a good chance to do it.”
By contrast, it was the 20th loss of the season for Chivas USA (6-20-8), which finished at the bottom of the Western conference.
The Timbers will open the playoffs next weekend on the road in the first leg of a two-game conference semifinal. They will take on the survivor of a mid-week elimination match between the fourth- and fifth-place teams. Those positions will not be decided until Sunday, when Colorado visits Vancouver and Los Angeles visits Seattle.
The Timbers chance of finishing with the best record in all of MLS ended Saturday afternoon when Sporting Kansas City beat Philadelphia 2-1. Lawrence Olum, who started his professional career with the second-division Timbers in 2007, scored the winning goal in stoppage time.
Valeri scored the first two goals on Saturday, first on a low shot inside the left post in the 16th minute, then with a marvelous chip shot in the 29th minute, both goals coming after Portland’s defensive pressure in the offensive half forced Chivas errors.
Rodney Wallace made it 3-0 in the 34th minute after Valeri collected an upfield ball from Futty Danso, beat a defender on the right side of the penalty area, and sent a low cross that Wallace finished.
Ryan Johnson scored in the 72nd minute after Chivas goalkeeper Tim Melia made a save on a low shot from Wallace. Will Johnson scored the fifth goal, converting a free kick in the 78th minute. The result was the largest margin of victory for the Timbers in three MLS seasons.
“We’re thrilled,” Will Johnson said. “Obviously we wanted to end the season the right way. We didn’t want to let our fans down, let ourselves down going into the playoffs. We wanted to go in on a good, positive performance. I think we achieved that tonight.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Rickets made a big late save to preserve his league-leading 14th shutout of the season. The Timbers blanked five of their last six opponents.
TIMBERS 5, CHIVAS USA 0
Portland 3 2—5
Chivas USA 0 0—0
First half—1, Portland, Valeri 9, 16th minute. 2, Portland, Valeri 10, 29th. 3, Portland, Wallace 7 (Valeri, Danso), 34th.
Second half—4, Portland, Johnson 9, 72nd. 5, Portland, Johnson 9, 76th.
Goalies—Portland, Donovan Ricketts; Chivas USA, Tim Melia.
Referee—Drew Fischer. Assistant Referees—Kevin Klinger. Baboucarr Jallow. 4th Official—Daniel Radford.
Portland—Donovan Ricketts, Michael Harrington, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace, Pa-Modou Kah, Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski, 73rd), Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan, 46th), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Jose Valencia (Ryan Johnson, 62nd).
Chivas USA—Tim Melia, Carlos Bocanegra, Jaime Frias (Josue Soto, 31st), Mario De Luna, Bryan de la Fuente (Matthew Fondy, 43rd), Edgar Mejia (Julio Morales, 43rd), Oswaldo Minda, Carlos Borja, Eric Avila, Carlo Chueca, Erick Torres.