Houston Dynamo Advance To Conference Finals After 2-1 Win In Portland

Caleb Porter

PORTLAND, OR (November 5, 2017) – The Houston Dynamo advanced to the MLS Cup Western Conference Finals after a 2-1 victory at Providence Park over Portland Timbers, after a 0-0 first leg match. With some timely finishing and Portland suffering from injuries, first year Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera has his team through to the Western Conference Finals.

Portland Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jeff Attinella — Alvas Powell, Lawrence Olum, Liam Ridgewell, Vytautas Andriuskevicius — Amobi Okugo, David Guzmán — Dairon Asprilla, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe — Darren Mattocks

Houston Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Joe Willis — Jalil Anibaba, Adolfo Machado, Philippe Senderos, Dylan Remick — Eric Alexander, Juan Cabezas — Alex, Tomás Martínez, Alberth Elis — Erick Torres

Houston Dynamo Advance To Conference Finals After 2-1 Win In Portland

The two sides played to a very even (and actually exciting) first half. The tied on shots 7-7 (Portland had more on goal, 3-2). Goalkeepers Jeff Attinella and Joe Willis were busy early and often. Both made fantastic saves throughout the match.

Portland came into this match banged up, and things got worse when Darren Mattocks had to be subbed out while under the concussion protocol. Rookie Jeremy Ebobisse replaced him.

The Timbers broke the deadlock in the 39th minute. Diego Valeri got the play going with a pass to Vytas in a wide position. The outside back sent a cross into the box. Defender Dylan Remick slipped as the ball came in, giving Dairon Asprilla enough space to score.

Just four minutes later, Remick found redemption. Houston won a free kick about 30 yards from goal. Tomás Martínez sent a cross in. After a deflection, Remick shot first time off the bounce and curled it inside the far post to tie it. It put the Dynamo ahead on aggregate as it was an away goal. The half ended 1-1 with no cards.

The two sides continued to play evenly in the second half. Portland made attacking substitutions and adjustments down a road goal. While they had more of the chances, they had trouble converting.

Houston substitute Mauro Manotas turned the match on its head with a blast in the 77th minute. From 10 yards outside the box, and struck the ball well towards goal. It bounced on the six yard line and underneath Attinella. That made it 2-1 and Portland needed two goals to advance in the final 23 minutes.

Both teams had players going down in the final minutes as the match intensified. Several players went down with injuries, as things unraveled for Portland and Houston looked to waste time. The Timbers were unable to muster a comeback and the match ended 2-1. On aggregate, the Houston Dynamo advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Scoring Summary:

39′ Portland – Dairon Asprilla, assisted by Vytautas Andriuskevicius and Diego Valeri
43′ Houston – Dylan Remick, assisted by Jalil Anibaba and Tomás Martínez
77′ Houston – Mauro Manotas, assisted by Eric Alexander

Last Words:

This match capped off an exciting Sunday slate of second leg matches. Many might have had Portland advancing because they were at home and had the best player between the two teams, MVP Candidate Diego Valeri. Valeri didn’t have much help though. Asprilla had some good moments, including on the goal. But Ebobisse wasn’t able to do much once Mattocks went down.

On the other side, Houston got the job done with the parts they had. Their patchwork defense was able to make enough plays when it counted. They contained Valeri and neutralized everyone else. Darlington Nagbe did not have a great game. Mauro Manotas was ultimately the villain in this one, scoring the go-ahead-goal to give the Dynamo some breathing room. It’s fitting, given that Manotas ended Portland’s playoff homes last season.

This win also ended the potential for a Portland-Seattle Western Conference Final. Now they’ll be playing with house money against Seattle Sounders FC.

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