Weathering the storm is often the phrase used for a team who is under excruciating amounts of pressure over a large period of time. This occasion however, weathering the storm is what both teams had to do in Colorado this Saturday, as the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids fought on a snowy battlefield at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 18 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, we were treated to #SnowClasico3, as billed on social media.
The record-setting temperature was the lowest ever recorded at an MLS game, whilst the snowy setting served as the league’s thirteenth game played in such conditions. Of course, Colorado are no strangers to facing these conditions, given that they’ve hosted just under half of all snow games, at a total of six.
The Rapids made multiple significant alterations to last season’s roster this offseason, and it showed.
Kei Kamara, one of the most established strikers in MLS history, opened the scoring as he tapped in Kellyn Acosta’s wonderful assist inside the five-yard box. The Rapids’ second marquee signing, Benny Feilhaber, also grabbed himself a goal as he danced his way through the box and made use of the Timbers’ blurred vision in the smog of the Snow Clasico.
The Timbers were far from nonchalant in the matchup as they almost immediately levelled things up. This goal came from the penalty spot as Axel Sjöberg prevented a shot with his hand in the box, which subsequently saw him sent off.
Portland then captured a goal in the depths of added time in the first half, as Sebastián Blanco headed home to take the lead before Feilhaber levelled things up. Deklan Wynne’s 66th minute own goal handed the Timbers the lead. From there, they largely controlled the game, having built a solid line of defence.
That same defence was ultimately defeated in the 93rd minute of stoppage time however, as former Denver Pioneer Andre Shinyashiki netted his first senior goal on his debut to tie the game up at 3-3.
Evidently, this matchup is one of the most incredible fixtures in recent MLS history. Shinyashiki’s fairytale debut goal was unbelievable, whilst the game ebbed-and-flowed magnificently for 95 minutes.
For the Rapids, it marks the inception of a new beginning for the club, whose many changes look to be crucial in their rebuild following on from a woeful 2018 season.
The influx of all-star talents in Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio, Keegan Rosenberry and Benny Feilhaber elevates them among the premier teams in the Western Conference, but can they clinch a playoff spot this year?
As for the Portland Timbers, they look to do one better than last year when they made it to the MLS Cup Final. Despite retaining multiple of their key talents in Diego Valeri and Diego Chará, I don’t believe they have truly replaced Fanendo Adi, who exited for Cincinnati this past offseason. Regardless, they remain one of the most talented teams in the conference and are a favourite to reach the postseason for sure.