Sebastien Le Toux’s first goal for the Rapids was all the more significant, in that it ensured a 1-0 win over Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, and catapulted Colorado into the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The goal, according to head coach Pablo Mastroeni, was massive for the late-season addition, Le Toux.

“I think it’s been a tough transition for him moving from Philly,” Mastroeni said postgame, “not having his wife in town, being alone. There’s a lot of struggles that go on for an individual when you get traded in this league or any league for that matter, especially when it comes to family. I think his wife came in town for the game tonight. Him scoring, I’m sure, takes a load off his shoulders and I think he showed his experience and professionalism tonight.

For the first time since 2013, the Rapids will play in the postseason. A tie with the Timbers would have been sufficient, but Pablo Mastroeni’s men made sure with their 10th home win of the season, to reach a franchise record-equaling 51 points.

Goaltender Tim Howard, who has only been with the team officially since July, still knows what an important win this was for this team.

“I think it was one of the highest points – we’re in the playoffs,” Howard said. “You want to celebrate these little milestones not because you think you’ve accomplished everything but because you want that feeling coming in after the game being exhausted and being able to capture that moment. We can do it again by pushing ourselves towards the Supporters’ Shield and all these little milestones. We have to get that winning feeling so tonight was special.”

After weathering a first half storm from a desperate Portland – in which man-of-the-match Tim Howard twice denied Diego Valeri, and then watched as a Valeri shot came back off the post – the Rapids were far more positive after the break.

The goal, when it came on 63 minutes, was thanks to the determination of Marlon Hairston, who somehow found a way past Vytas and Diego Chara. His ball across the penalty area was helped on by Dominique Badji, into the path of Le Toux, whose first-time, well-placed shot, curled low into the bottom right-hand corner.

Badji has been strong for Colorado of late, and was so again for his manager Saturday.

“I think he brings an element of speed that’s hard to defend,” Mastroeni said, “that really opens up the space in between opponent’s back line and midfield. The quicker we can find him and utilize him in that area, the more time Gashi and the guys underneath, Le Toux and Marlon [Hairston] will have on the ball. I think in the second half, he applied himself really well. He got some good looks, was courageous in his commitment to shoot, to be dangerous, to run in the channels and cause a lot of havoc in the second half. He continues to impress in that position. That’s what you want as a young player, you want to be given an opportunity and, more importantly, you want to be able to control what you can which is your performance and I think he’s done really well.

With for games left, the Rapids (13-5-12) remain in second place in the Western Conference standings. Next up for Mastroeni’s men is a road contest at Houston Dynamo on Saturday, October 8.