MLS Cup Playoffs: Portland Timbers 3-1 FC Dallas

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The game in 100 words (or less): If you put together a pair of elite counter-attacking teams on the same (lightning-quick) field, and throw in a berth in MLS Cup as the stakes, you can probably guess what you’re going to get: a high-speed, end-to-end slobberknocker. That’s exactly how the first leg of the Western Conference finals, between the Portland Timbers and FC Dallas, played out Sunday night at Providence Park. Portland went 2-0 up through goals scored by Liam Ridgewell and Dairon Asprilla (go watch the video of the latter below — trust me), but conceded an away goal, scored by David Texeira, shortly after taking their two-goal lead. Nat Borchers restored the two-goal lead in second-half stoppage time. The second leg will be played next Sunday at Toyota Stadium, where the Timbers will advance to MLS Cup 2015 with any second-leg draw or one-goal defeat.

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Three moments that mattered

23′ — Ridgewell bundles home from a corner kick — FCD were by far one of the best set piece-defending sides in MLS for the entirety of 2015. Disciplined, organized and dominant in the air — three traits lost in the 23rd minute in leg no. 1 against the Timbers.

53′ — Asprilla’s swerving stunner doubles the lead — Dairon Asprilla, take a bow, son. Then take another, and another, and another. Heck, take one more if feel like it. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez goes one way, mid-flight, and the ball goes the other way.

62′ — Texeira bags a massive away goal — The finish from Texeira is extremely clever, but with all due respect, I’m hitting rewind on that through ball from Mauro Diaz before Je-Vaughn Watson even crosses the ball for Texeira.

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Man of the match: Diego Chara

Goalscorers: Ridgewell (23′), Asprilla (53′), Texeira (62′), Borchers (90+1′)