The Portland Timbers are back in the playoffs after a year away from post-season action.
Diego Valeri was the hero as he opened the scoring from the spot just before half time and provided the assists on the second and third goals from Alvas Powell and Sebastian Blanco, respectively, as they toppled D.C. United by a 4-0 score at Providence Park.
The Timbers controlled much of the first half, but didn’t produce much in the way of chances until just before the half time whistle. First, Darren Mattocks missed a 44th minute sitter when he was left wide open in the penalty area, but he skied his shot over the net. Another came a minuet later when some heroic defending robbed Alvas Powell and Vytautas Andriuskevicius of a wide open net.
Mattocks would avenge his horrific miss in the second of two minutes of first half stoppage time. He took advantage of a poor back pass aimed at D.C. goalkeeper Steve Clark and pilfered the ball along the end line. As he tried to cut back inside for the tap in, the Jamaican tripped over the keeper to earned the penalty. Diego Valeri proceeded to do what Diego Valeri does as he tucked home the spot kick with his trademark confidence.
Despite going down at the death of the half, D.C. did manage to produce a little of their own in the opening frame. Their one real opportunity came from Zoltan Stieber, who forced a strong save out of Jeff Attinella in the 43rd minute when he thought he had the top corner picked out with a long distance blast.
The second half picked up where the first left off. D.C. nearly scored on one end, but Attinella made a pair of excellent saves in quick succession to deny Patrick Mullins of an equalizer twice. About 100 yards away, the Timbers doubled their lead when Powell uncorked a curling effort from outside the penalty area that evaded a diving Clark in the 50th minute.
Sebastian Blanco put the game away with another assist from Valeri at the hour mark. The Argentinians worked a give and go at the corner of the D.C. box that ended in Blanco picking out the upper 90 with ease. He would add a fourth in the 86th by dancing his way through the entire defense before smashing the ball into an empty net.
The Timbers clinch a playoff spot with this victory and will close out the season against Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps next Sunday. The winner there would take first place in the Western Conference.
D.C. United is one step closer to seeing this miserable season end. The will finish last place in the Eastern Conference after they play New York Red Bulls on the road next Sunday to finish this forgettable campaign.
MAN OF THE MATCH
It was hard to pick just one man of the match for the Timbers. Diego Valeri takes the award as he continued to make his MVP case with his 21st goal of the season, which ties him with Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic for the league lead. He also added a pair of assists, bringing his total to 11.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Darren Mattocks won the penalty just before half time the got the ball rolling on Portland’s second half rout. That moment sparked the Timbers to life, who dominated the remainder of the match after going in front.
MATCH TO FORGET
Steve Clark saw shades of the 2015 MLS Cup Final when he mishandled a back pass, leading to the penalty that provided the opening goal. He probably could have done more the stop the next two Portland goals, as well. Overall, Clark had a poor, poor game.