Portland Timbers: Western Conference Champions



Via Oregon Live

David Tecum, Writer

 The Portland Timbers have booked their ticket to the 2018 MLS Cup final through an exciting run of games knocking out 3 of their western conference foes. In the knockout round, they were able to knock out F.C. Dallas with a little bit of magic from last year’s MLS MVP Diego Valeri, scoring a free kick in the 23rd minute and then scoring another in the 71st minute which was the eventual game-winner. Even though Dallas did get one back in the 94th minute it wasn’t enough and the Timbers would go on to face their arch-rivals, Tthe Seattle Sounders, in the semifinals. (a leg is one game of a two-game series whatever team has scored the most goals at the end will advance, the goals they score are scored by what is called aggregate). November Eleventh, 2018, the first leg of the western conference semifinals, Sounders vs Timbers one of the most heated rivalries in the MLS going on since 1975 and having over 100 meetings between the two. The beginning of the game was a bit shaky with starting center back Larrys Mabiala suspended because of a red card when he took out FC Dallas Forward Dominique Badji without getting any of the ball. In the tenth minute, Seattle got off to a great start by scoring in the tenth minute, by Raul Ruidiaz, with a great finish assisted by Cristian Roldan.  The Timbers were now down a goal and it only took seven minutes to find a goal to level the score Diego Valeri put a fantastic through ball in for Jeremy Ebobisse and calmly finished by putting it over Sounders goalie Steffen Frei. Twelve minutes later the Timbers took the lead through Sebastian Blanco. The Timbers controlled the rest of the game and kept creating goal scoring opportunities and limited the number of chances the Sounders could get to score, which set up nicely for the second leg. November eleventh second leg of the western conference all the Timbers needed was a 0-0 draw to advance. They kept the sounders out until the 68th minute when Raul Ruidiaz scored off of a horrible mistake from Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella when he dropped the ball right into the path of the Sounders forward and he finished with ease to put Seattle in front with the away goal rule (the away goal rule is if there is a tie on aggregate . The lead only lasted ten minutes when Sebastian Blanco got the ball on the top of the box and fired it into the bottom corner. The Timbers looked to be going through to the conference championship but Raul Ruidiaz scored in the  93rd minute and sent them to extra time. 3 minutes into extra time, Dairon Asprilla scored from a great cross from Diego Valeri.


    The Timbers faced Sporting Kansas City in the western conference final and knew that it would be a hard series to win. They got a 0-0 draw in the first game and thought it was a good result knowing that they could go on the road and win games. In the second game, everything was set up for a very dramatic match because both teams needed goals and they were both going to start very attacking and fast-paced. It didn’t take long for Kansas to get the scoring started 20 minutes in the rest of the first half was very shaky for the Timbers as they conceded twice but both goals were called back. The second half was a lot different than the first half for the Timbers knowing they needed a goal 12 minutes into the second half Portland attacker Sebastian Blanco scored an absolutely brilliant goal with the ball dipping and swerving into the top corner from 30 yards away. The Timbers kept pushing for more not satisfied with their slim lead they scored again 9 minutes later through when Sebastian Blanco put the ball over the heads of the Kansas defense and Jeremy Ebobisse playing it back to Diego Valeri and with the goalie exposed,  Valeri headed it into an almost empty goal. But the game isn’t over yet with a little under 30 minutes to play and the Kansas City coach made an attacking change Gerso Fernandes in for Daniel Salloi for more speed up top. The Timbers had seemed to have wrapped it up heading into the last 10 minutes but in the 81st minute the substitute Gerso Fernandes to put Portland under pressure. They defended well for the rest of regular time and almost the entirety of extra time which was 9 minutes long then the chance finally came for the timbers to finish it off when defender Jorge Villafana headered away a cross and it fell to midfielder Diego Chara who played it back to Sebastian Blanco who sent Chara running to get the ball he stopped and waited for the other Diego, which is Diego Valeri, and since Sporting Kansas City needed a goal they had been pressed high up the field and only 2 defenders had been left back Chara passed a great ball to Valeri and he was through to finish the game and send them to the final.  He’d done it he finished hitting it past the keeper and into the corner. The Timbers had won, the final whistle blew and the timbers celebrated they lifted the Western Conference Championship trophy. They knew this was just the small one with the final in Atlanta on the 8th.