AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Portland outlasts Seattle in gripping playoff second leg

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Portland and Seattle staged a second leg befitting of their rivalry, as the Timbers knocked their rivals out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a gripping win in Seattle early Friday.

A chaotic ending put the match in extra time, where Dairon Asprilla sent a bullet header into the back of the goal off a Diego Valeri cross to make it 4-3 on aggregate only to see a penalty make it 4-4 four minutes later.

Will Bruin hit the post with Seattle’s second penalty attempt and Jeff Attinella stopped Osvaldo Alonso on the next Seattle attempt. Stefan Frei stopped Liam Ridgewell‘s winning bid, but could only get a hand on Asprilla’s winning hit.

The triumph sets Portland up for a meeting with either Real Salt Lake or Sporting KC in the Western final.

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The Sounders entered the match down 2-1 but holding an away goal. That meant 1-0 would be enough for them to get into the conference finals, and an awful Portland mistake put them in the catbird seat.

Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella bungled a cross and left it on the doorstep for Raul Ruidiaz, who made it 2-2 on aggregate in the 68th minute. Seattle, as it stood, was headed back to the Western finals.

Enter Sebastian Blanco.

The Argentine took a lay-off from Dairon Asprilla and hit a low ball that caught Stefan Frei in a hard place.

Portland was back in front, though the Timbers were denied a bid to close the match out via Frei’s in-tight denial of Lucas Melano.

Stoppage time made it 2-1 to Seattle, when Ruidiaz unleashed this beauty following a weak headed clearing attempt from Blanco.

The match went to extra time, and Valeri’s long cross was met at the back post by the leaping Asprilla.

The score line stayed the same for less than four minutes, as a Blanco handball sent Lodeiro to the spot and the Sounders star did not miss his chance to make it 4-4.

Ruidiaz had a goal pulled back for a handball as the match continued to deliver drama en route to kicks.

Some Timbers players celebrated after extra time, apparently thinking they advanced via away goals (away goals in extra time are no longer a tiebreaker). That’s… problematic.

Timbers extend unbeaten streak with 3-0 win over Union

Sean Meagher /The Oregonian via AP
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla each scored on a penalty kick, and the Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games with a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Portland improved to 10-0-5 since its last loss on April 8 at Orlando. The undefeated run matches the club’s MLS record of 15 games set in 2013.

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Philadelphia rested many of its starters – including captain Alejandro Bedoya – in anticipation of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

David Guzman also scored for the Timbers on a header in the 87th minute.

Valeri’s penalty came after Philadelphia’s Fabinho pulled down Alvas Powell in the 58th minute. Warren Creavalle tripped Valeri in the box for Asprilla’s PK in the 84th minute.

It was Portland’s first match without Fanendo Adi, who signed with FC Cincinnati this week. Adi, who had been with the Timbers since 2014, scored a late goal that gave Portland a 2-1 victory over Houston last weekend.

FC Cincinnati, currently with the lower-tier USL, will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team next season.

The Timbers were without Sebastian Blanco because of yellow card accumulation. Samuel Armenteros, who was listed as questionable with a sore back, started for Portland.

Bedoya was listed as a sub for the match but entered in the 66th minute after Valeri’s goal.

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Philadelphia hosts the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Other regular starters who were subs for the game included Hari Mendunjanin, Raymon Gaddis and David Accam. Coach Jim Curtain started forward C.J. Sapong and defender Keegan Rosenberry.

The match was scoreless after the first half. Portland’s best chance appeared to be a shot by Andy Polo that sailed just over the goal in the 34th minute. Just before that, Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella lunged to grab Sapong’s left-footed shot toward the far post.

Sapong had another opportunity in the opening minute of the second half but Attinella came away with another save.

Top-seeded Timbers ousted, at home, by road-woeful Dynamo

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / @HoustonDynamo
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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′)

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

Pete Christopher/The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

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Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

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Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup 2015 — Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers

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Today is the day. This is the big one. For all the marbles. It all comes down to this: MLS Cup 2015.

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Sunday’s final is scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff. Starting lineups for both sides can be found below. Kei Kamara, who was injured in Crew SC’s final training session yesterday afternoon, starts up for the Black and Gold. For Portland, Liam Ridgewell returns from a calf injury to start alongside Nat Borchers in defense, while Caleb Porter has opted for Lucas Melano over Dairon Asprilla on the wing.

Follow along with Sunday’s MLS Cup final action at the link below.

FOLLOW LIVE — Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers — MLS Cup 2015