FRISCO, Texas — The Portland Timbers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night, beating FC Dallas, 2-1, at Toyota Stadium in the knockout round despite playing more than 30 minutes down a man.
The Timbers will host either Sporting Kansas City or the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of the semifinals Sunday at a time to be determined. Their opponent depends on the outcome of tomorrow’s knockout round match between LAFC and Real Salt Lake.
Diego Valeri recorded a brace to clinch the victory, scoring a goal early and late in the match.
The game-winner came in the 71st minute after Sebastian Blanco played a ball to Portland forward Jeremy Ebobisse. Ebobisse pushed FC Dallas centerback Reto Ziegler into an odd position, so goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez came off his line. That’s when Ebobisse played the ball back to Valeri, who took a shot in the open net to make it 2-0.
“There is a lot of frustration for not accomplishing our goals, our objective,” FCD coach Oscar Pareja said. “It is frustrating to get at this point again and in the early stage and not being able to advance.”
Valeri scored first in the 24th minute off a free kick. Lined up just outside the 18, Valeri hit the set piece to the near post, beating Gonzalez.
Pareja thought his team played well. They created opportunities, but failed to capitalize once again, having 22 shots, but only six on frame, with many of them attempts that posed no threat for Portland keeper Jeff Antinella.
“Sometimes [we] were more desperate than intelligent,” Pareja said. “The overall game, just being aggressive in the first half and having that many options to score is probably a non-story. It’s very repetitive, just to say, ‘Well, we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net’.”
Individual hustle by FC Dallas forward Dominique Badji in the 58th minute gave the hosts a chance to get back into the game. Badji chased down a through ball from Michael Barrios and beat out Larrys Mabiala, who promptly took him down. Referee Alan Kelly sent off the Portland defender for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
Oct 31, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas players argue with Portland Timbers in the first half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
FC Dallas got a consolation goal late from Matt Hedges. Santiago Mosquera headed the ball back into play and found Hedges, who tapped it in in the 94th minute to make the score 2-1.
Pareja admitted he wished that he had the services of Pablo Aranguiz on the bench post-match. He left Aranguiz out of the 18 due to a coaching decision. The Chilean has accumulated 282 minutes in his first season after FCD signed him using targeted allocation money in the summer.
“It was just purely about my ideas,” Pareja said. “It was to see how the game could be developed on the field. We came from Colorado, I thought the central midfielders sat a lot kilometers that game and we were thinking probably we may need that energy in the middle. That was a pure coaching decision.”
Dallas will now look forward to the future after another disappointing playoff exit. The team is still chasing that elusive MLS Cup berth, something it hasn’t reached in eight years, when the team lost in the 2010 MLS Cup to Colorado 2-1.
“I think at this moment, we’re really disappointed with the season,” midfielder Victor Ulloa said. “We know that teams change every year and we’ll see how our team looks next year. Overall, just disappointed and frustrated with ourselves that we disappointed ourselves and disappointed the fans.”