Minnesota United 1, Portland Timbers 0 | 2019 MLS Match Recap
Ethan Finlay converted a penalty in second-half stoppage time, after a Video Review resulted in a handball called on Larrys Mabiala, and Minnesota United grinded out a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Field.
Finlay's spot kick possessed just enough power to beat the dive of goalkeeper Steve Clark and see the Loons move into second place in the Western Conference above San Jose and Seattle on goal difference, with the latter to play later Sunday evening.
Minnesota is now unbeaten in their last seven games in MLS and 10 overall approaching their rematch with Portland on Wednesday night (8 pm ET | ESPN+) in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, also at Allianz.
Clark got a touch on the effort after guessing correctly to his right, but not enough of the ball to keep Portland from losing its first MLS match in seven games.
After a relatively uneventful opening hour-plus, both teams had late chances from the run of play. Brian Fernandez struck the right upright in the 77th minute after a layoff from Jeremy Ebobisse. Then the hosts nearly took the lead in the 86th minute when Abu Danladi's cross was a shade too far in front of Mason Toye, who redirected service just wide of the right post.
- 90'+2' - POR - Ethan Finlay (PK) | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Not only did the Loons continue to climb up the standings, but they did so while arguably gaining an edge for their Open Cup rematch with Portland in three days' time. Darwin Quintero sat out the game entirely due to a card accumulation suspension, while Angelo Rodriguez and Miguel Ibarra both exited with more than a quarter of the match to play. For Portland, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and Brian Fernandez all went the full 90.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It initially appeared as though referee Chris Penso might not take a second look at the corner kick that had Minnesota protesting vociferously for a PK handball. Eventually he did, and determined the ball had clearly struck Mabiala's arm while it was in an unnatural position.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Ethan Finlay. The Duluth native was one of Minnesota's more consistent creators in Quintero's absence, on a day when Kevin Molino, inhabiting Quintero's central attacking role, struggled to get involved. Then with Quintero, Molino and Rodriguez all unavailable to take the decisive penalty, Finlay's strike was powerful and decisive even with the 'keeper guessing correctly.
- MIN: Wednesday, August 7 vs. Portland Timbers, U.S. Open Cup semifinals (8 pm ET | ESPN+)
- POR: Wednesday, August 7 at Minnesota United, U.S. Open Cup semifinals (8 pm ET | ESPN+)