Major League Soccer Western Conference Final Leg 1 - Providence Park
11/22/2015: Clear, 10C/50F
Portland Timbers – GLK Adam Larsen Kwarasey, DEF Alvas Powell, DEF Liam Ridgewell, DEF Nat Borchers, DEF Jorge Villafana, MID Diego Chara, MID Jack Jewsbury, MID Darlington Nagbe, MID Lucas Melano, MID Dairon Asprilla, FWD Fanendo Adi. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
FC Dallas – GLK Jesse Gonzalez, DEF Ryan Hollingshead, DEF Matt Hedges, DEF Zach Loyd, DEF Je-Vaughn Watson, MID Victor Ulloa, MID Kellyn Acosta, MID Fabian Castillo, MID Mauro Diaz, MID Micheal Barrios, FWD David Texeira. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
Leg 1 of the MLS season Western Conference Final:
Providence Park hosted the first leg of the 2015 MLS Western Conference Final and it was a glorious day for one last game this season in the Rose City with temperatures hovering around a comfortable 50F after a rainy week. Co-Supporters Shield winners FC Dallas were looking to set themselves up for the home leg with some kind of positive result from the away leg while Portland would have happily taken another 3-1 victory which they obtained early in the season at home.
For Caleb Porter, both Rodney Wallace and Diego Valeri were missing through suspension and so he had to shuffle the pack. Much interest was to see who he would go with out of Jack Jewsbury, George Fochive, or Will Johnson who had played well for Canada the previous week in replacing Diego Valeri and he elected to bring in Jack Jewsbury in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Rodney Wallace was replaced by Dairon Asprilla for an injection of pace into the attack. This was the second time in 3 seasons that the Portland Timbers had made it to the play off conference final and they are clearly hoping to go all the way this season but FC Dallas were always going to be a tough proposition with their explosive attack.
For FC Dallas, they were on a high having won their tie over the fancied Seattle Sounders and looking to make the most of their first time in a conference final since 2010. If they could grab something at Providence Park then they would certainly be favorites going into the second leg with their league leading record of 13-2-2 at the Toyota Stadium. No suspensions to worry about for Coach Oscar Pareja and this team had been very dangerous on the break all season so Portland will have needed to be switched on with their defending right from the start. An away goal let in here could be very costly for the home side.
1 min: Nagbe makes an early break and slides the ball through to Melano who turned his man but Gonzalez made an excellent save. Melano did well but really should have put that away.
3 mins: It’s the same combo once again as Nagbe sets Melano free again and he had a cheeky shot from a tight angle that Gonzalez should have dealt with but parried it onto his own crossbar. Excellent early pressure from the home side and Nagbe looked like he was really up for this already.
7 mins: Yet again it was Nagbe sliding another pass in for Melano but his shot from a tight angle was low and wide of the goal. An excellent start from the home side looking to take an early lead now on 3 occasions as Nagbe’s skill and Melano’s pace was causing all kinds of trouble for the FC Dallas defense.
20 mins: The game had settled down a little and FC Dallas were beginning to at least keep the Timbers at bay. Portland will feel that they should have gotten an early goal while they were really on top. Mauro Diaz put in a low shot from the edge of the box after some head tennis in the Portland penalty area.
GOAL! 24 mins: Corner swung in from the right hand side and Asprilla nods it on from the near post and it’s Liam Ridgewell who bundles the ball home for a well-deserved goal. Portland Timbers 1-0 FC Dallas.
27 mins: Barrios eased his way with great skill past Alves Powell and cut inside from the byline and picked out a pacey pass to Texeira and he tried a back heel flick but completely missed it to the relief of the home fans. This was indeed an example of how dangerous FC Dallas can be.
35 mins: A free kick won by Diego Chara and it was floated from centrally in and Jack Jewsbury got a good headed flick onto it for Nat Borchers but he just couldn’t get it either side of Gonzalez who kept it to 1-0.
41 mins: Nagbe once again with an excellent show of vision as he found Asprilla out wide but his low cross was only found by Goalkeeper Gonzalez.
Half Time Score: Portland Timbers (Ridgewell 24) 1-0 FC Dallas ()
Shots: Portland Timbers 6 (3)-4 (2) FC Dallas
Possession: Portland Timbers 53%-47% FC Dallas
46 mins: Corner won by the home side on the left and side and Alvas Powel put in an in swinger that Asprilla met with his head but nodded it too much down into the surface and Gonzalez was able to tip it over the crossbar. Another bright start to the half from the home side.
GOAL!! 54 mins: Fanendo Adi tries to get onto a through ball and goes down but nothing was given and Dairon Asprilla picked up the ball 30 yards out on the right hand side of the pitch and rifled it like a laser into the top left hand corner of the goal to make it 2-0 and take the roof off of Providence Park. Portland Timbers 2-0 FC Dallas.
57 mins: Fortunate for the Timbers as Ryan Hollingshead found himself through on goal with only Kwarasey to beat and his shot just flew wide of the left hand post in a big let off for the home side. An away goal would be very important in a game like this.
GOAL! 62 mins: Within 1 minute of Liam Ridgewell being forced off the field due to injury, FC Dallas score a simple goal. Diaz slid the ball onto Watson out wide and Texeira slid the ball home from 5 yards. Portland substitute Norberto Paparatto with a nightmare start as he lost his man for the goal. Poor defending and a crucial away goal for FC Dallas who had looked dangerous on the break. Portland Timbers 2-1 FC Dallas.
75 mins: After plenty of good possession for FC Dallas after the goal had changed the game and party atmosphere for the home fans, it was another corner for the Timbers swung in and once again Asprilla won the header down but Paparatto could not prod the ball home. A difficult chance to be fair to him. The game was really in the balance at this point.
GOAL! 90 mins: Portland had looked dangerous all evening from set pieces and another corner was swung in and Paparatto won the initial header down and via a scramble it’s Nat Borchers who scrambled the ball home for what could be a massive goal in this game! Portland Timbers 3-1 FC Dallas.
Full Time Score: Portland Timbers 3-1 FC Dallas
Shots: Portland Timbers 14 (8)-11 (5) FC Dallas
Possession: Portland Timbers 54% - 46%
MOTM: Dairon Asprilla - Portland Timbers
An excellent performance from the Portland Timbers, especially in the early parts of both halves and they richly deserved the victory. At 2-0 the home side was looking comfortable but when Liam Ridgewell went off injured and FC Dallas scored within a minute, the away team had Portland almost on the ropes as Portland kept giving away possession. Credit to Caleb Porter’s men though who hung on and grabbed a 3rd goal from another set piece where they looked dangerous all evening.
It’s all to play for in Dallas 1 week from tonight and FC Dallas will have to win by 2-0 or better to get the better of Caleb Porter’s men, certainly not impossible for them as they have the best home record in the league, but surely the Portland Timbers are favorites to win the Western Conference.