Post Slab Pint: Timbers 3-1 Minnesota United

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Welcome to the Post-Slab Pint: Playoff Edition, where I break down (pint by hand) the good and bad results of each Timbers. After the Portland Timbers’ 3-1 loss to Minnesota united, there were many more good things than bad. The win set up a Western Conference semifinal game against the No.1 seed Colorado Rapids, with the kick off scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PST on Thanksgiving Day.

So what did I like about the result?

For the most part, the Timbers appeared to have complete control offensively and defensively against Minnesota. I’ll start off by saying this, because as worried as I was about the Loons’ pre-game, I think it was probably the most complete playoff win I’ve ever seen with the Timbers. Aside from the first goal conceded by the Timbers (more on that later), the game went as flawlessly as one could ask from Portland’s point of view. They limited Minnesota to just six shots on target the entire game, including two after the 77th minute, with Dario Zuparic and Larrys Mabiala both having what I thought were absolutely outstanding performances on defense. The fact that they kept Emanuel Reynoso silent throughout the game is proof of that. Plus, the final minutes of the first half and the first 30 minutes of the second half could have been the best the Timbers have pressed and blocked all season.

Sébastien Blanco. I don’t know what else to say about this man. In my opinion, he is the best player in MLS right now and, as he has done since returning from injury earlier in the year, he put the team back on his (slightly injured) back with two superb goals in the second half. While everyone got poetic about their second lens, and rightfully so, I think their first one was my favorite. The amount of technique it takes to hit a bouncing ball through your body with such power and precision is just awesome. Right now it’s Chucky’s world and we’re just living in it.

Mabiala invoked the legend of Futty Danso, waiting for the playoffs to score his first goal of the season. There aren’t a lot of things I like more than big guys coming up from the back on set pieces, so Larrys Mabiala’s end of the first half was about as spectacular as everything I have ever seen from a Timbers defenseman. Within minutes, Mabiala saw his kick over the line before leaping over what appeared to be the entire Minnesota defense to score the tying goal. What made the goal even better was that, just like Futty Danso’s post-season goal against the Sounders in 2013, Mabiala’s goal was the first goal he has scored this season.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Now what did I think was wrong?

The Timbers conceded goal was a microcosm of how weak the defense was at times this year. I want to be positive because I think the goal was the only poor aspect of the result for the Timbers, but it needs to be talked about. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but an undercover player at the far post scored against the Timbers in 2021. Robin Lod was able to pass a weak challenge from Claudio Bravo at the edge of the box before meeting Romain Métanire (who easily walked past Bravo). Thanks to the observation of the ball from Jose Van Rankin, Métanire framed a ball to an unmarked Franco Fragapane at the far post. If the Timbers are to win the MLS Cup, such mistakes cannot happen or they will inevitably get burned.


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