The Portland Timbers were all over the LA Galaxy from the jump at Providence Park on Wednesday, riding a trio of first-half goals to an emphatic 5-2 victory, and clinching a spot in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The three points put the Timbers back level with Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders on 35 points for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference, while the Galaxy remain in the West basement with 18 points from 19 matches.
The Polish striker then added his second of the evening in the 19th minute, getting his head to a ball hit with pace into the area by Pablo Bonilla and cashing it into the bottom left corner.
The Timbers would cap the early barrage with their third on the half-hour mark after Galaxy defender Nick DePuy used his arm to block a cross in the penalty area from Portland's Yimmi Chara, drawing a penalty kick whistle from referee Drew Fischer. That allowed Diego Valeri a look from the spot, where the star Argentine slotted the attempt past LA goalkeeper David Bingham.
The Galaxy pulled one back just 17 seconds into the second half after a giveaway allowed Cristian Pavon to slot home the finish after the ball popped free to him in the box, giving the visitors a ray of hope at salvaging a result.
But that would be offset on the hour-mark, as Portland struck for a fourth courtesy of Eryk Williamson. The 23-year-old took a feed from Niezgoda down the left side and juked Galaxy defender Daniel Steres before coolly slotting home the finish.
Andy Polo capped off the onslaught for Portland in the 74th minute, unleashing a gorgeous first-time volley from the right side off a long cross from Yimmi Chara before Pavon added a consolation goal in second-half stoppage time for the Galaxy to make it a 5-2 final.
- 6' - POR - Jaroslaw Niezgoda | WATCH
- 19' - POR - Jaroslaw Niezgoda | WATCH
- 30' - POR - Diego Valeri (PK) | WATCH
- 46' - LA - Cristian Pavon | WATCH
- 60' - POR - Eryk Williamson | WATCH
- 74' - POR - Andy Polo | WATCH
- 90' - LA - Cristian Pavon
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's a big three points for the Timbers, both in terms of their aspirations of making a run at the No. 1 seed in the West, and as a bounce-back performance coming off back-to-back disappointing 1-1 draws. For the Galaxy, it was more shambolic defending in a season that has already seen plenty of it, and just not enough ideas in the attack outside of Pavon. It's shaping up to be an interesting offseason in Carson.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Whenever Andy Polo scores, it always seems to be a banger. Check out the finish on this one from the Peruvian.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Niezgoda had the two goals, but Yimmi Chara was all over the place for the Timbers, assisting on three of his team's five goals. If he's in this type of form headed into the playoffs, it makes Portland that much more dangerous.