The game in 100 words (or
less more): One by one, the trendy, higher-seeded favorites are falling away in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs — same as the postseason has ever been. Sunday saw the Eastern Conference’s 2-seed, New York City FC, bow out at the hands of 5th-seeded Columbus Crew SC, not long before the Western Conference’s top-seeded Portland Timbers fell victim to 4th-seeded Houston Dynamo. Having secured a 0-0 draw in the first leg down in Houston, Caleb Porter’s side entered Sunday’s second leg with a decided advantage — Houston won just once away from home all season, and managed just 10 points in total from 17 tries. After Dairon Asprilla put Portland 1-0 ahead in the 39th minute, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the 2015 champions would move on to face the defending champs, their Cascadia rivals, the Seattle Sounders, in the West finals beginning on Nov. 21. Alas, Dylan Remick, a former Sounder himself, made it 1-1 just four minutes later, and Mauro Manotas delivered the final blow 13 minutes from full-time to propel Wilmer Cabrera’s side into the final four. In their 12 seasons of existence, Houston have been to the playoffs eight times, reached the conference finals seven times, appeared in MLS Cup four times, and won it twice.
[ MORE: 3 keys to Sunday’s 2nd legs ]
Three moments that mattered
39′ — Asprilla fires home the opener — Diego Valeri played the ball wide to Vytas, who lofted it into the box. Asprilla was quickest to react when the cross was a bit too deep, and the Colombian hit an unstoppable ball past Joe Willis.
43′ — Remick smashes home a loose ball for 1-1 — Tomas Martinez played the free kick into the box, Jalil Anibaba headed it down, and Remick smashed it past Jeff Artinella to put Houston ahead on away goals.
77′ — Manotas hits a slow bouncer past Attinella for 2-1 — Insurance.
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Man of the match: Juan Cabezas
Goalscorers: Asprilla (39′), Remick (43′), Manotas (77′)