Whitecaps 1 @ Colorado Rapids 3
Despite taking the lead in the 9th minute, Vancouver fell on the road to the Rapids, all but sinking their playoff hopes. Brian White opened the scoring thanks to a defensive miscue from Colorado and great composure from White to jump on the chance and calmly slot it away.
While possession went back and forth between the two sides, it was Colorado who created the better chances and in the 21st minute Gyasi Zardes would tie the match up for the Rapids after a long ball over the top caught the Whitecaps’ defense on their heels.
Vancouver did themselves in on the second goal for Colorado as Ranko Veselinovic was judged to have taken down Jonathan Lewis in the box, awarding the Rapids a penalty kick which Diego Rubio finished off for the 2-1 lead.
The second half was better for Whitecaps in possession stats and chances created, notably a shot off the crossbar from Pedro Vite in the 62nd minute, but they weren’t able to find the goal they needed.
Colorado put the match beyond all doubt in the 75th minute as Lewis continued to create problems for Vancouver, this time creating space between him and substitute Luis Martins to the right side of the goal and finishing top, near corner over keeper Cody Cropper for the 3-1 lead.
The loss leaves Whitecaps on 34 points with 4 matches to play, putting their maximum possible point total at just 46, 3 more than Real Salt Lake currently have in 7th place and with LA Galaxy, Sounders, and Colorado all ahead of them it will take a herculean effort and a lot of luck to make the playoffs.
Next for Whitecaps is a home match against Seattle on Saturday for the last Cascadia Cup match of the year with both sides needing a win to keep any playoff chances alive.
Timbers 1 vs. Minnesota United 0
Thanks to clutch goalkeeping from Aljas Ivacic and a timely goal from Dairon Asprilla, the Portland Timbers won their 4th straight match, all by a single goal difference.
It looked like the Loons were going to take the lead in the 10th minute but Ivacic made a fantastic save to parry a tap-in and Claudio Bravo deflected away a header off the rebound on the goal line to keep the match level.
Minnesota created the better scoring chances throughout the match but the Timbers’ defense recovered very well and made shooting lanes hard to find. When a shot did make its way on frame, Ivacic was there to make the save and keep a clean sheet for Portland.
The one shot on target for Timbers would be the winner as Asprilla headed in a corner kick from Santiago Moreno in the 61st minute to give the home side the one goal they would need to take three points.
Minnesota nearly pulled a goal back in the 65th minute as a shot from Wil Trapp from the top of the box looked to be destined for the top corner but Ivacic was quick to react and punch the ball over the bar.
Being a team who thrives on the counter-attack, Portland invited Minnesota to create chances with possession in their final third but the Loons weren’t able to break down the Timbers’s defense to pull back a goal and ultimately the Timbers would do enough to secure the win.
Portland is now 5th in the Western Conference with the win, sitting on 45 points through 31 matches. Just behind them are Minnesota on 44 points and Salt Lake on 43 but both clubs have a game in hand on Timbers as the season comes to a close.
Next for Portland is an away trip to Columbus to face former coach, Caleb Porter, and the Crew, followed by a home match against LAFC, and a road match against Real Salt Lake on Decision day, leaving a difficult road ahead. Portland should be able to clinch a playoff spot by taking at least 4 points from their final 3 matches but will have to do so against 3 playoff caliber clubs compared to easier schedules for the clubs below them in the standings.
Sounders 3 vs. Austin FC 0
With few games left to pull themselves back into a playoff position, Seattle needed to find a result against Austin who sit second in the Western Conference and, thanks to a Raul Ruidiaz first half brace and a fortunate own goal, they took all three points. Playing the same lineup as they did in their 2-1 win over Houston, Seattle controlled the middle of the pitch thanks to their high press, forcing Austin into turnovers and capitalizing on the counter-attack.
Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio have shown to be a good partnership in the defensive midfield for Sounders and it’s allowed for Albert Rusnak to play in a more attacking role with less responsibility on the defensive end.
Jordan Morris had his way with Austin’s left back, Jon Gallagher, beating him in a foot race to set up both of Ruidiaz’s goals and Rusnak’s tendency to cut inside on his right foot opened space down the wing for Nouhou to play into which created problems for Austin’s defense.
With 4 matches left to play, Sounders are still outside the playoffs at the moment but have very winnable matches on the schedule. Next for Seattle is a trip to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps, then they’re home against Cincinnati FC, away against Sporting KC, and home against San Jose Earthquakes on Decision Day.
If the last few years are any indication, Seattle will need to finish with at least 48 points to reach 7th place in the West. With the fight for the last few playoff positions as tight as it is in the West, Sounders must feel that they’ll need to take a minimum of 10 points from a possible 12 to get them to 49 points on the season if they’re going to sneak in and keep the playoff streak alive.