Playoff-bound Timbers down Austin FC 3-0 on Decision Day

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A goal by Sebastian Blanco in the 53rd minute was the final tally for the playoff-bound Portland Timbers in a 3-0 victory over Austin FC on Sunday night in the final regular-season game.

The Timbers’ playoff spot wasn’t in doubt — they clinched the fourth spot in the standings with a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. As a result, Portland will open the playoffs at home against Minnesota, which played to a 3-3 draw with the LA Galaxy on Sunday.

“We know it’s not going to be easy against a difficult team,” Portland midfielder Diego Chara said about facing the Loons. “I think we showed in the last part of the regular season that we have a lot of talent on the team. And I feel if we work in the right way, we can make the next phase.”

Portland (17-13-4) set a club record for most wins in a season. The Timbers have advanced to the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.

Austin (9-21-5) was eliminated before Sunday’s game. Playing its first season, the expansion team won just two road matches this season. But the team had beaten in the Timbers twice at home.

“It’s a good group. We play good soccer and we’ve got to get good performances more consistently, but you’ve got to win games, and that’s going to be a big focus — bringing in players are going to help us win games, both ends of the field,” Austin coach John Wolff said about the work that needs to be done in the offseason. “We’ve got to make some improvements.

Cristhian Paredes scored in the 17th minute to give the Timbers the early lead. Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored on a header just before the break to make it 2-0.

Blanco capped the win with his seventh goal of the season.

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