FC Dallas 1, Portland Timbers 2 | 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Recap
A pair of goals by Diego Valeri — the second coming with his Portland Timbers team down to 10 men — proved enough to stave off FC Dallas, 2-1, in Wednesday night's Western Conference Knockout Round Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoff match at Toyota Stadium.
FC Dallas got off more first half shots than the Timbers, and it looked as they'd gotten the opening goal when Reto Ziegler headed in a 12th minute set piece, but he was ruled offside. The half's only goal came on a free kick in the 23rd minute, when Valeri set up outside the box and curled in a near-post shot that evaded Dallas 'keeper Jesse Gonzalez.
The complexion of the match changed in the 58th minute when Larrys Mabiala clattered an en-route-to-goal Dominique Badji, earning a red card for his efforts. Despite the man advantage, though, Valeri would score his second shortly after, when a defensive miscue between Gonzalez and Ziegler allowed Jeremy Ebobisse a relatively easy assist. FC Dallas would find a goal midway through seven minutes of stoppage time, when Matt Hedges got his foot on a loose ball in front of goal, but couldn't find the second goal they needed before the clock wound down on Dallas' season.
- 23' – POR – Diego Valeri | WATCH
- 71' – POR – Diego Valeri | WATCH
- 90' + 4' – DAL – Matt Hedges | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese took a risk in resting key starters in their season-closing loss to Vancouver, settling for the No. 5 seed and a knockout match on the road, but a fresh Timbers team was able to dispatch FC Dallas, and will return to a raucous Providence Park on Sunday. (For a matchup which could work out to be — are you listening, soccer gods? - against the No. 2 seed Sounders.) FC Dallas, who were again offensively challenged on Wednesday night, closed out the season with four straight losses and a disappointing early playoff exit.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Valeri's second goal bailed the Timbers out after Mabiala's red card, and held up as the game-winner once FC Dallas found their scoring boots with little time remaining.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though the former MVP is deserving with his brace, it could just as deservedly go to Jeff Attinella, who had five saves to preserve the win (and very nearly the clean sheet).
- DAL: End of season.
- POR: Western Conference Semifinals | Sunday, November 4 vs. opponent TBD