The fog that had been lingering around the city all day had cleared a couple of hours before the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One match between the Portland Timbers and Minnesota United, letting the late fall afternoon light shine in the North End of Providence Park. Before the game I could see the rigging for a huge tifo and had a feeling that it would be a great day.

As I typically do when there is good light on the field, I wanted to work that area until there was no light left. I started the match on the south end to capture the great tifo display from the Timbers Army.


After kickoff I noticed that goalkeeper Steve Clark was going in and out of the good light so I moved down the field and positioned myself in between the team benches to try and get some nice shots of Clark. Unfortunately, a couple minutes later Minnesota would net the first goal of the match.


The Timbers are resilient though and I knew they'd get right back in it. The light was gone from the field, but still on the Timbers Army, which made the backgrounds bad from photos shot from the south side of the stadium. So I decided to stay on the north end and shoot the Timbers defense. This decision would pay off as in the 42nd minute defender Larrys Mabiala would attempt an amazing bicycle kick that nearly went in. I am still not sure how it didn't. My position on the opposite side of the field made for a great photo even if the shot was saved.


Still in shock from seeing a central defender do such a thing, I was transmitting images from my camera to our social media team when one minute and five seconds later Mabiala did find the back of the net – this time with his head off a cross from teammate Claudio Bravo – to level the score just before halftime. Once again, being on the opposite side of the field paid off when the team ran back towards my position for the celebration.


Now that the game was tied, I would shoot the offensive side of the field in the second half, which opened with a bang when barely one minute after kickoff Sebastián Blanco scored his first goal of the match with his right foot at the top of the box. Green smoke filled the air and playoff mode was officially activated.


The Timbers remained in attacked mode, firing off a few more shots when in the 66th minute Blanco unleashed a golazo from distance that curved its way into the back of the net to give the home team a 3-1 advantage. I picked up my 70-200 camera as he ran over towards the Timbers Army and shot a wide photo showing the chaos around him (top photo).


Now that the Timbers had a 3-1 lead, I made my way over to the home bench to shoot the rest of the match and get some bench reactions from head coach Giovanni Savarese.


After the log ceremony a fan tossed a mask down to the field. Playoff Chucky is back and a Thanksgiving dinner with the Colorado Rapids (1:30pm PT, FOX) is the next in his sights.