Portland Timbers 1, Houston Dynamo 2 | 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Recap
One year ago, the Houston Dynamo were the worst team in the Western Conference. In two weeks' time, they'll be playing for a spot in MLS Cup.
Goals from Dylan Remick and Mauro Manotas allowed the Dynamo to post just their second road win all year as they overcame the Portland Timbers, 2-1, at Providence Park to book a date with the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Championship.
The Timbers would strike first at the end of tight opening half when Dairon Asprilla took advantage of a slip from Remick in his own penalty area to collect a cross from the left and slam it home in the 39th minute. Remick would quickly atone for his error, though, hitting a vicious half-volley to level things two minutes from halftime and put Houston ahead on the away goals tiebreaker.
Despite their injury woes, the Timbers ably pressed forward in search of the go-ahead goal, but were met with firm resistance by the Dynamo backline and backup goalkeeper Joe Willis, filling in for the suspended Tyler Deric. However, the Dynamo would deal the knockout blow to Portland with 13 minutes left in regulation when Manotas fired in a low scorcher from outside the box that snuck past Timbers 'keeper Jeff Attinella and nestled in the far corner.
- UNSUNG HEROES: Wilmer Cabrera has made his bones with the Dynamo by relentlessly rotating his squad, and things were no different even in this high-stakes playoff game. One of the changes was forced, as Willis replaced the suspended Deric and put in a sterling performance in goal highlighted by a superlative diving save on Asprilla with the game scoreless in the first half. Further forward, midfielder Eric Alexander, who featured in just 12 games all season, continued to quietly excel against one of the strongest midfields in the league:
Eric Alexander has been for sure the best MF in #PORvHOU btw. Good to see from a dude who's been underrated for far too long.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) November 6, 2017
- INJURIES PROVE TOO MUCH: The Timbers entered this game with a rash of injury issues and things quickly got worse. Darren Mattocks lasted 13 minutes before being substituted off with a head injury, while Vytas – who provided the assist on Asprilla’s goal – would leave the game late on with a knock. Already missing the likes of Fanendo Adi, Diego Chara and Larrys Mabiala, and with Sebastian Blanco available only off the bench, the absence of key players across the field proved too much for Portland to overcome.
- LOOKING AHEAD: The Dynamo will have a while to wait before they host Seattle in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 21, and there will be plenty of storylines to track in the meantime. For one, the dynamic duo of Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia, must head across the Pacific and back to play in a high-stakes, two-legged playoff against Australia as Honduras bid to qualify for their third consecutive World Cup. That taxing affair, plus the status of veteran left back DaMarcus Beasley – who missed tonight’s game with a right quad injury – will surely put Cabrera’s squad rotation skills to the test once more.
- POR: Season over.
- HOU: vs. Seattle Sounders – Tues., Nov. 21, 10 pm ET (FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN, TVAS)