“We’re tough to beat”: Portland Timbers boost playoff chances with Austin FC upset
Bad weather. The Landon Donovan MLS MVP award frontrunner. One of the best teams in the league.
The Portland Timbers handled them all Wednesday night, beating Austin FC 2-1 in a rain-delayed match that saw them take three vital points from Q2 Stadium and finish Week 28 action in seventh place in the Western Conference, just above the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoff line.
For head coach Giovanni Savarese, the result was no surprise given how his players executed the game plan.
“It was important for us to be resilient, to tactically be very organized, and I thought we did a phenomenal job,” Savarese said after the win – Portland’s second in a row following Friday night’s Cascadia Cup success (also by a 2-1 scoreline) against the Seattle Sounders FC.
This time around, defenders Bill Tuiloma and Zac McGraw provided the goals, which were enough to hold off a late Austin rally that came up short despite MVP and Golden Boot presented by Audi favorite Sebastian Driussi scoring his 20th of the season.
Tuiloma’s 16th-minute opener was his sixth overall this year and his fifth off a header – second only to FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez, who’s got six in this category.
The eventual game-winner came in the 73rd, courtesy of McGraw’s first MLS goal.
“I’m very happy for him,” Savarese said of the 25-year-old, now in his third season with the Timbers. “He’s been working very hard and being rewarded not only with a win but also with a goal. I think his father is here, so I’m sure he’s very proud.”
Gio was equally proud of his players, who’ve turned it on in the final stretch of the season following a lackluster run towards the end of the summer that had some doubting their chances of a postseason berth, despite making the MLS Cup final last year.
“This mentality, togetherness, things we talk about all the time,” he noted, aware that momentum is in their favor heading into Sunday’s match against Atlanta United (5:30 pm ET | FOX, FOX DEPORTES).
“If we do that, we’re a very tough team to beat.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Austin FC vs. Portland Timbers | August 31, 2022