Heading into Sunday afternoon, with all eleven games being played simultaneously, the Timbers needed a win of their own, plus an upset victory from one of the West's two worst teams, San Jose or Colorado, to improve on their fifth place standing in the Western Conference and host that midweek game.
With those long odds and a short turnaround in mind, Giovani Savarese decided to punt on Sunday. None of the eleven players who started against Real Salt Lake last weekend were named in the lineup to face the Whitecaps, with the likes of Diego Chara and Diego Valeri not traveling to Vancouver at all.
It was entirely logical and safe play from Savarese, and, ultimately, one of significant consequence. That's FC Dallas led Colorado in Commerce City for more than an hour after an early Maxi Urruti goal, but conceded twice the final ten minutes and fell to the Rapids 2-1.
They also, in the process, dropped from second place in the West down to fourth — meaning that they, not Seattle nor LAFC, will host the Timbers in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday.
It's a matchup that the Timbers should be thrilled with. Instead of the Sounders, who have won 14 of their last 16 games, or the firepower of Bob Bradley's expansion team, they get a Dallas side that, after collapsing down the stretch in 2017, seems to be in the midst of a similar implosion to conclude 2018.
The numbers are stark. Dallas team will enter the postseason having lost three straight matches and barely averaged more than a point per game since the beginning of August. They've struggled mightily to create chances during that stretch, and played their full team, at altitude, on Sunday.
The two clubs met a month ago exactly at Providence Park, and played out a tight 0-0 draw. It was a game similar in nature, if higher in intensity, to the regular season meeting in Frisco all the way back in March that finished 1-1.
On Wednesday, considering their recent history, the pressure will be squarely on Dallas and their manager Oscar Pareja. The Timbers will be on the road, yes, but they'll be fresh and plenty confident after hammering RSL twice in what amounted to their final two games of the regular season.
Their actual final game, the one played in Vancouver, was hardly more than a friendly. The Timbers fielded one of their weakest lineups ever in an MLS game, while the Whitecaps, eliminated from playoff contention last weekend and without a manager after Carl Robinson's firing, had absolutely nothing on the line.
Their chief aim on the afternoon was to bid a very fond farewell to their 18-year-old star Alphonso Davies, who was appearing in his final game at BC Place before his winter departure for German giant Bayern Munich.
Davies was sold to Bayern in the summer for an MLS-record fee of around $22 million, and it didn't take him long on his final day in the league to show the world why he has a very real chance to be the best Canadian player ever.
Almost 20 minutes later, picking up the ball just behind the midfield stripe, Davis sprung into action. He tore past Lawerence Olum, gobbling up ground, turned inside on Bill Tuiloma, and fired a shot from the top of the box that cracked past Attinella and into the corner to give the Whitecaps the lead.
It was soft goalkeeping, but it was also hard to begrudge the teenager his good fortune after a signature run and fine finish.
Fortune was an even more important ingredient three minutes later, when Marco Farfan dawdled in his attempt to clear a Brett Levis cross and allowed Davies to nip in, steal the ball, and slot it into the far corner to double his tally and make the score 2-0.
That goal pretty well ended the game — if it had ever really begun — as a competitive spectacle. Halftime arrived with the score unchanged, and as the second half began, the contest got more and more stretched out.
The Whitecaps had chance after chance on the counter attack after the restart, and used most of them to try to get set up Davies for what would have been a first ever professional hat trick, but the starlet couldn't convert on a series of decent setups.
Davies wasn't the only Whitecap who had his share of looks. Kei Kamara had a point blank header turned away by Attinella, while Yordy Reyna hit the crossbar with a measured shot as the clock approached 70 minutes.
In the end, the game's last goal would go the Timbers' way — when Flores got on the end of an excellent low cross from Dairon Asprilla to make it 2-1 with just a handful of minutes to play.
There were no more chances, and no real takeaways of significance for Portland. Savarese has a decision to make in goal, where Attinella is the more proven quantity but Steve Clark the form player, while the likes of Alvas Powell and Samuel Armenteros seem certain to start the Wild Card game on the bench.
Other than that, the Timbers are locked in: 4-2-3-1, field players rested and ready to go, on what is forecasted to be an unusually temperate night on the outskirts of Dallas.
It'll only be in the aftermath of this next trip that we be able to fully judge Savarese's decision to rest his starters in Vancouver. What we know for sure, regardless, is that while much of the rest of the league plunged into chaos, the Timbers were getting themselves set for Wednesday.
They might not win. But they've given themselves an awfully good chance.