Diego Chara

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Valeri scores twice as 10-man Portland eliminates Dallas

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Diego Valeri scored twice, the second when Portland was down to 10 men, as the Timbers won their first match of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 defeat of FC Dallas in Texas on Wednesday.

Larrys Mabiala was shown a red card in the 58th minute for the Timbers, and Matt Hedges scored in stoppage time for the hosts’ lone goal.

For Valeri, the goals were his third and fourth in MLS Cup Playoff action, and his 76th and 77th as a Timber.

Portland will face Sporting KC if LAFC beats Real Salt Lake on Thursday, or Seattle if Real wins.

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Reto Ziegler looked to have pushed Dallas in front, but the 15th minute goal was overturned by VAR for offside.

Valeri’s goal couldn’t be overturned, though perhaps the refs would’ve liked to sneak a look at the replay just for entertainment’s sake.

The match headed to half 1-0, with Diego Chara and Carlos Gruezo shown yellow cards for a scuffle before the break.

That was a prelude to a straight red 13 minutes into the second half, albeit not one for brawling. Mabiala was shown off as last man back for a takedown of Dominique Badji.

Portland would have to make it a half-hour plus with a one-goal lead and 10 men on the pitch, and they would thanks to hard work from Jeremy Ebobisse to set up Valeri for his second.

Houston 0-0 Portland: Attinella keeps 1st leg level (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): A pair of first half penalty shouts, one taken back and another not given, were the stories of the frame as both Houston and Portland were denied attempts from the spot. More concerning for Portland was the pre-half injury to Diego Chara, who appeared to suffer a non-contact leg injury. The Timbers were on the back foot for plenty of the second half, calling upon goalkeeper Jeff Attinella several times, though the introduction of Jeremy Ebobisse at least temporarily gave them some life. Plenty of time on social media was spent on Houston’s turf, which has not had kind hurricane, soccer, and football seasons. The second leg is Nov. 5 at what will be a raucous Providence Park.

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The moments that mattered

31′ — Houston penalty overturned — There’s good debate as to whether VAR should’ve been called into this bang-bang call, but Houston’s chance for a first half lead from the spot was taken back when it was ruled Alberth Elis was not fouled by Portland’s Larrys Mabiala.

42′ — No penalty given to Portland — Why wasn’t VAR called upon here, where Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric certainly appears to scythe down Portland’s Darren Mattocks.

56′ — Forget away goals, just keep it clean — Jeff Attinella was under fire in the second half. Similar to Alex Bono in the other Monday first leg, the Timbers keeper was a big part of the away effort.

Man of the Match: Attinella.

Timbers, Thorns Stand Together for unique volunteer effort

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While World Cup qualifying grabs the headlines, players from the Timbers and Thorns are going to work – wielding paint brushes and shovels.

For the past six years, the Timbers organization has staged Stand Together Week, a massive volunteer effort – recognized by the city of Portland – that involves players, front office staff, supporters and anyone else who wants to join in.

Partnered with Hands on Greater Portland, the team identifies nonprofits that need help then unleashes volunteers. Scores of projects are lined up on any given day. Even Timbers organization owner Merritt Paulson helped clean and weed a park this week.

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Most professional sports teams and athletes do charitable work, but it’s unusual for an entire team to collectively devote an entire week and help dozens of organizations all at once. The team says that since 2012, Stand Together volunteers have devoted 12,631 hours of service at more than 163 events benefiting kids and the environment.

Paulson said the Timbers get inquiries from other pro sports teams about how it works.

“A weeklong, city-endorsed celebration with over 1,000 volunteers, and players from all three of our teams – the Timbers, Thorns and T2 – engaged in the community, it’s just unbelievably special,” Paulson said. “And it’s a huge undertaking. When we first did it I remember pushing back on my staff and asking `Are we spreading ourselves too thin?’ and `Do you think people will really turn out?’ The answer was yes, and then some. Each of these events gets filled to the brim with volunteers.”

The Timbers enjoy a unique relationship with the city that dates back to 1975, which the team joined the NASL. The Timbers have sold out 114 matches, and the Thorns have the highest average attendance (by far) in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“We didn’t do it to build a brand, we did it because it’s who we are,” Paulson said. “We take our responsibility to shine a light on areas that could use a little more help extremely seriously, as I think any sports team should. But there’s no question I think that what we’re doing and the way we’re doing it is unique.”

On Tuesday, Timbers players Diego Chara and Victor Arboleda helped out at a development being built by Willamette West Habitat for Humanity.

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Chara was charged with clearing out invasive berry bushes near the home.

“I think for me it’s spending time in the community, for me that’s the key part,” Chara said. “It’s a different project (than soccer), and I think every player enjoys that.”

Later in the evening, Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri and Thorns coach Mark Parsons were among those who helped paint two visiting rooms at the Beaverton, Oregon, offices of the Department of Human Services.

As Parsons detailed a mural, a fellow volunteer asked him if he was an artist.

“Quite the opposite. I’m horrendous,” Parsons said, laughing. “But I try.”

GAME (S) OF THE WEEK: The U.S. national team plays in a pair of World Cup qualifying matches this week. First up is a match Thursday night against Trinidad and Tobago in Colorado. Then the Americans travel for a match against Mexico in Mexico City.

The United States is in fourth place in its six-team group with four points, while Trinidad and Tobago is last with three points. Mexico leads the standings with 10 points. The top three teams from the group qualify, with the fourth-place squad going to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

Because of qualifying games, many regular MLS players are currently with their national teams.

OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST: There are only three games up this weekend, all on Saturday: Atlanta plays at the Chicago Fire, FC Dallas visits the Timbers, and Sporting Kansas City hosts Montreal.

HONORS: FC Dallas winger Roland Lamah was named the Player of the Week for his three goals in a 6-2 victory over Real Salt Lake last Saturday. It was his first pro hat trick.

Meanwhile, Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic was voted Player of the Month by the media. He had six goals and an assist in May, while the Fire went 4-0-1.

Nikolic leads the league with 11 goals this season.

CANADIAN PRIDE: Sixteen-year-old Vancouver midfielder Alphonso Davies had a big Tuesday. Not only did his become a Canadian citizen, he got called up to the Canadian national team.

“Not many people can say they’re a Canadian citizen, knowing that it’s one of the best countries in the world. I’m very proud that I’m one of those people,” he said in a statement after passing the test. “I’m also extremely thankful to my parents for everything they’ve done throughout the years, carrying the family to this safe environment. This is our home. This is where I grew up. And now to have the opportunity to represent the men’s national team is a great honor.”

Davies will join the Canadian team for a training camp in Montreal in advance of an exhibition match against Curacao.

Davies, whose parents fled Liberia, was born in Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana. The family moved to Canada when he was 5 years old.

We’ll always have the video: Van Damme suspension remains after MLS review

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Dives from David Guzman and Diego Chara gave us a hilarious video, some heat for the LA Galaxy media team, and Jelle van Damme a red card, but the league repercussions will be minimal for the Timbers pair.

Van Damme’s suspension remains for his pair of yellows against Portland, although Chara has been fined for embellishing before the first offense — given to Van Damme for dissent toward Toledo — and Guzman hurt his ankle doing the same on the second.

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If you think that doesn’t make much sense, you have company in Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“It was clear that he didn’t make contact with either of them,” Onalfo told reporters. “It’s unfortunate, but he didn’t make contact. It was crystal clear on the replay, but it’s unfortunate.”

The only argument for punishment is to stand with referee Baldomero Toledo’s post-match account that Van Damme’s tackle interfered with the flow of play even if he didn’t make contact with Guzman (an argument that is pretty self-protective from a longtime MLS ref).

We can’t help but look at the photo above and think Toledo had a bit of ire in his mind for Van Damme. Shoulder-shrug emoji, we guess.

Report: MLS to “address” Galaxy’s aimed social media post

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Props to the LA Galaxy for their witty social media post on Monday. Unfortunately, it might spell the end for Major League Soccer clubs posting similar content.

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According to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, MLS is looking into the Galaxy’s Twitter video that was aimed at the Portland Timbers and officiating from Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against the Cascadia club.

The video currently has over 27,000 retweets on Twitter and an additional 40,000 likes.

Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme was sent off in the first half after picking up two yellow cards within a three-minute span. Both decisions were heavily scrutinized after replays showed Diego Chara and David Guzman likely dove during their encounters with the LA central defender.

However, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson saw no harm in the post, stating that he did not inform the league to investigate the situation.

Additionally, PRO referees chief Peter Walton said that he had viewed the post and didn’t have the intention getting involved.

In the event you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the Galaxy’s clever video.

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