COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Larrys Mabiala scored in the 90th minute and the Portland Timbers beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 on Thursday to advance to the Western Conference final.
Portland will face the winner of Sunday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake.
If Real Salt Lake advances, Portland will host the Western Conference final at Providence Park. It will be the fourth time in the conference final for the Timbers.
Yimmi Chara’s corner kick was deflected high into the air and Cristhian Paredes headed it into the 6-yard box for Mabiala to knock home.
Mabiala hadn’t scored all season before connecting in consecutive playoff games.
“I felt like (Portland’s late corner kick) could be the only way we could score today, because it was very tight,” Mabiala is quoted on the Timbers website. “We tried to regroup a little bit (before) that set piece, and I just felt like the ball was about to bounce there. I just followed my instinct.”
Colorado had control of the first 45 minutes, dictating play and continuously breaking through the right side of Portland’s defense.
Twice goalkeeper Steve Clark had to come up with saves on shots in the first half and the teams went into halftime at 0-0.
“We just made the plays when it counted,” Clark said about the first half’. “They’re a very good team. It’s a difficult place to play. The pitch wasn’t very good. We were a little out of rhythm, but we got the result.”
Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese acknowledged that Colorado got the better of his squad in the first half. But the play turned in the second half.
“They found some spaces, and we adjusted in the second half,” he said. “We closed the spaces and were able to be better with the ball. We knew we were going to find those moments to create our opportunities.
“The most important thing was the way that we defended in the second half.”
Portland star playmaker Sebastian Blanco left early in the second half with an apparent leg injury. As he tried to run to a forward pass, Blanco went to the ground, grabbed the back of his taped left leg and immediately signaled for a substitution.
Portland will be without Dairon Asprilla for the conference final after he received a straight red card for violent conduct in second-half stoppage time.
TIMBERS 1, RAPIDS 0
Portland 0 1—1
Colorado 0 0—0
Second Half—1, Portland, Mabiala, 2, 90th+1 minute.
Goalies—Portland, Steve Clark, Aljaz Ivacic; Colorado, William Yarbrough, Clinton Irwin.
Yellow Cards—Zuparic, Portland, 45th.
Red Cards—Asprilla, Portland, 90th+4.
Referee—Ted Unkel. Assistant Referees—Frank Anderson, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, Alan Kelly. 4th Official—Alex Chilowicz.
Portland—Steve Clark; Claudio Bravo, Larrys Mabiala, Jose Van Rankin, Dario Zuparic; Sebastian Blanco (Santiago Moreno, 52nd), Diego Chara, Cristhian Paredes (George Fochive, 90th+6); Dairon Asprilla, Yimmi Chara (Marvin Loria, 90th+6), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (Felipe Mora, 67th).
Colorado—William Yarbrough; Lalas Abubakar, Mark-Anthony Kaye (Braian Galvan, 83rd), Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, Daniel Wilson; Kellyn Acosta, Cole Bassett (Jonathan Lewis, 75th), Jack Price; Dominique Badji (Michael Barrios, 75th), Diego Rubio (Younes Namli, 67th).