KANSAS CITY, Kansas – The Portland Timbers are headed to the MLS Cup for the second time in four years.…
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – The Portland Timbers are headed to the MLS Cup for the second time in four years.
Three Years after Ousting Sporting Kansas City in an epic knockout round game and route to the 2015 MLS Cup, the Timbers fought back from a one-goal deficit in Kansas City Thursday to secure their place in the 2018 MLS Cup. 19659002] Sebastian Blanco scored a golazo and Diego Valeri recorded a brace as the Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City 3-2 in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship series in front of 20,091 fans at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas Thursday. 19659002] The win came after the Timbers played Kansas City to a scoreless draw in the first leg of the series. Portland won the series 3-2 on aggregate score.
“It’s a credit to a group that worked hard,” said Timber coach Giovanni Savarese. “Now, this achievement puts us where we want to be, in the final. “
The Timbers will now move on to face Atlanta United in the 201
8 MLS Cup. The game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. PST at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
After being the aggressor in Portland in the first leg of the series, the Timbers were on the defensive for much of the first half Thursday as they struggled to contain Kansas City on a Cold night at Children‘s Mercy Park. It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff.
Kansas City found what seemed like it could be the series-deciding goal in the 20th minute.
The play started when Kansas City forward Johnny Russell sent the ball off Timbers center back Liam Ridgewell while trying to drive toward goal. The ball shot out to forward Diego Rubio, who put it over goal for striker Daniel Salloi. Salloi fired his shot through the legs of Timbers defender Zarek Valentin and in the net to give Kansas City a huge 1-0 lead.
Kansas City continued to push the Timbers throughout the first half, but could not extend their lead. That proved to be huge for Portland.
Salloi appeared to score again in the 24th minute, but the goal was called back because Kansas City defender Ike Opara, who was in an offside position, obstructed Timber’s goalkeeper Jeff Attinella on the play. Rubio then put the ball into the net in first half-stop time, but was ruled offside.
“Gio was very honest,” Attinella said. “We came out and it was not good enough. I think we got a little bit lucky only down one in the first half, but at the same time, we took their best punches and we got out of there only down one. We knew we could play better. “
After struggling throughout much of the first half, Portland came out with a vengeance in the second half.
“I thought it was a very difficult first half,” Savarese said. Jeg tror vi var veldig, veldig bra. “
Blanco stunned Kansas City with his golazo just seven minutes into the second half. The Argentine midfielder got the end of a pass from Jorge Villafana in the 52nd minute and took a few touches before firing an incredible shot from more than 30 yards out into the upper corner of the net. With the game tied 1-1, the Timbers regained control of the series lead due to the away goal tiebreaker.
“I can not believe it,” Blanco said. “I tried to, of course, shoot, but not In that place. It’s beautiful because for us it was amazing for our confidence. “
Valeri then gave Portland a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute. Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia managed to bat away the ball from Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse in the box, but Valeri was there to head in the go-ahead goal. Kansas City fans threw beer cans on the field following the goal, pushing both teams to vacate the field momentarily.
“Sebastian’s goal changed the game,” Valeri said. “That gave us a lot of energy and confidence to find the second one. Then we defended against a good team and we were efficient. stage. “
Kansas City pushed numbers forward late in the game as they fought to get back in the series. Kansas City forward Gerso Fernandes got on the end of a cross and fired the game-tie goal into the net from close range in the 81st minute.
Valeri scored on a counter attack late in stopping time to put the series away as Portland’s magical run continued.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Valeri said. “It’s to enjoy for this group, for this club, for our supporters.”
– Jamie Goldberg | [email protected]
503-853-3761 | @ jamiebgoldberg