First, 94th minute goals help Portland leave the ranks of the winless

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Mentally, it would have been difficult for the Timbers to rebound had they not win this game. For all the progress that D.C. United’s made this season, they’re still a team that won three games last year. Ben Olsen’s is still a team Portland matchup well against. Fair or not, Portland’s image of United is more the team they beat 2-0 at RFK Stadium last year than the squad that was five games unbeaten.

That’s why Gastón Fernández’s first minute goal was so important at the time, though come the 94th minute, it was essentially forgotten. With Maxi Urruti beating Bill Hamid seconds before the final whistle, Portland finally ended its winless run, its 3-2 win over visiting United marking the team’s first win in six months.

For much of the night, however, this was less 2013 Timbers than the erratic 2014 model that started the night at the bottom of the Western Conference. Though a Cristian mistake allowed Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri to set up Fernández after 34 seconds, Davy Arnaud pulled D.C. United even in the 21st minute, a deflection off Diego Chara sending a speculative shot looping over Donovan Ricketts’ for the visitors’ first equalizer. After Futty Danso’s corner conversion sent Portland into half up one, the defender’s 78th minute own goal looked set to keep the Timbers winless.

Desperation, however, proved the difference in the last minute of injury time, with a second ball in from a corner allowing Portland to delete the “0” from its win column. After Valeri, who’d taken the corner, saw the play swung back to his side, a driven cross at the near post found Urruti, who put his first try off the near post. Sprawled, Hamid had no time defend a shot put back across goal, the rebound having come straight back to the Argentine forward. With his second goal of the year, Urruti gave the Timbers their first win of the season.

It was a result that highlighted the bizarre nature of such a low scoring sport. The Timbers didn’t played appreciably better than they had against Seattle or Real Salt Lake, yet they posted their first win of the season. And whereas a freak Jose Gonçalves own goal and a home field smash-and-grab against New York contributed to D.C.’s unbeaten run, the team’s loss in Portland was one of their better overall performances of the season.

It’s a paradox that warns against dwelling on any small set of results. For the Black and Red, Saturday’s 90 minutes ended with a loss, but the team provided more reason to think this year’s start is sustainable. And for the Timbers, though their performance still featured as many misgivings as virtues, the team will no longer have to answer questions about a winless start.

EFL Cup Tues. preview: Spurs-Reds, plenty of non-PL participants

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).

Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.

[ MORE: Finland’s “Leicester” gets it done ]

That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.

That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.

The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.

Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.

— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.

— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.

FC Dallas gave injured Mauro Diaz a home champagne shower (video)

FRISCO, TX - APRIL 12:  Mauro Diaz #10 of the FC Dallas controls the ball against the Seattle Sounders FC on April 12, 2014 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
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FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.

Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.

[ MORE: Pre-playoff power rankings ]


VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

[ MORE: Full MLS Cup bracket ]

Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast