David Texeira

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.

[ MORE: Previewing the MLS weekend ]

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′)

MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 0-1 FC Dallas

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The game in 100 words (or less): Before Saturday’s slate of MLS games kicked off, road teams had won just under 25 percent of games on the season. After a 3-0 record on Saturday, capped off by FC Dallas’ 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake, that number stands at well over 25 percent. The three points secured in Saturday’s victory put FCD on 57 points, which is good enough to clinch home-field advantage throughout the entirety of the Western Conference playoffs. David Texeira scored the game’s only goal (6th of the season) to give FCD their 17th victory of the season (tops in the league). FCD now hold a three-point advantage on the New York Red Bulls in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. RBNY are away to the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. If both sides win out to finish the regular season, RBNY currently hold a three-goal advantage in the goal differential tiebreaker. RSL, on the other hand, are now officially eliminated from playoff contention.

[ MORE: East playoff scenarios | West ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Gonzalez’s reaction save thwarts “El Burrito” — Juan Manuel Martinez found himself all alone against 20-year-old Jesse Gonzalez shortly before halftime, but the young Mexican goalkeeper (born in North Carolina) reached out with his big right paw and batted the ball down as it look destined for the far post.

57′ — Texeira splits the RSL defense, makes it 1-0 — RSL’s central defensive duo of Aaron Maund and Elias Vasquez parted for Texeira like the Red Sea as the Uruguayan latched onto Mauro Diaz’s through ball and struck expertly to beat Jeff Attinella.

59′ — Attinella out quickly to save Castillo’s effort — There are few things in MLS more frightening that Fabian Castillo, with a full head of steam, bearing down on you as a goalkeeper. When the Colombian attacker made a beeline for RSL’s penalty area, Attinella was brave in coming off his line and closing down Castillo’s shooting angle.

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Man of the match: David Texeira

Goalscorers: Texeira (57′)

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 31

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Week 31 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, and in its wake comes the least star-studded MLS Team of the Week squad we’ve seen all year — just three Designated Players: two of which are center backs; the other a striker, but not one of “those” big names.

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Go ahead, try to spot the Designated Players in this week’s Team of the Week (below). Suffice it to say, it was another strange weekend around the World’s Most Unpredictable League™.

[ WEEK 31: SEA 1-1 LA | RBNY 2-1 CLB | TFC 3-1 PHIFCD 4-1 HOU ]

Tim Melia stood on his head in Portland (again), which made Krisztian Nemeth’s Goal of the Year candidate (if you haven’t watched it yet, do so now). David Texeira scored twice to lead FCD’s rout of Houston, while Harry Shipp scored one and assisted one as the Fire shocked the world and the Revs.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 31

Goalkeeper: Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Damien Perrinelle (New York Red Bulls)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Harry Shipp (Chicago Fire), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: David Texeira (FC Dallas), Gilberto (Chicago Fire), Krisztian Nemeth (Sporting Kansas City)

MLS Forwards