The game in 100 words (or less): Ban two-leg series in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Seriously, ban them. Not only was the New York Red Bulls’ narrow victory over D.C. United earlier on Sunday bad soccer due to the two-leg and away-goal rules, but so was the second game of the day, a hugely disappointing 0-0 draw between Cascadia Cup rival Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park. The Whitecaps, one of the league’s most attack-minded teams, elected to start three central midfielders in order to secure the scoreless result before hosting the second leg at BC Place next Sunday, and were painfully successful in doing so (40 percent of possession, 10 shots, 3 on target). To the Timbers’ credit, they went for it slightly more than their Pacific Northwest neighbors (11 shots, 6 on target) less than 72 hours after playing 120 minutes before knocking off Sporting Kansas City in an epically dramatic penalty kick shootout Thursday night.
Three moments that mattered
8′ — Ousted down quickly to stop Melano’s effort — Rodney Wallace sent in a left-sided cross that begged the Whitecaps defenders to boot it clear, yet no one did so. It rolled all the way to Lucas Melano, who arrived into the penalty area late and did his best to direct the ball on goal. David Ousted was down quickly, though, and held comfortably.
72′ — Ousted at full stretch to tip Valeri’s FK wide — Diego Valeri delivered the inch-perfect free kick that would have nestled itself just inside the post and under the crossbar against just about any other goalkeeper in MLS. Unfortunately for Valeri and the Timbers, Ousted was the man in goal, and he’s very, very good.
89′ — Urruti hits the post after beautiful build-up — Valeri played Maximiliano Urruti through toward the corner of the six-yard box, and the Argentine striker went for the far-post finish, only to be denied by the front of the post. Beautifully worked by the Timbers, so cruelly denied.
Man of the match: David Ousted