The Portland Timbers Advance to the Western Finals

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers took care of business in dominating fashion as they won 3-2 (5-3 on aggregate). They face a good RSL team in the Western Conference Finals

In the first leg the Portland Timbers were more than happy to sit back and let the Seattle Sounders feel comfortable on the ball. The second leg was a perfect display of high pressure and how to squeeze to struggling center backs. In some ways the change in tactics seemed to take Seattle by surprise and they were hard pressed to adjust.

Portland on the front foot from the first whistle created two solid chances for Rodney Wallace to open the scoring in the first 10 minutes but neither shot found the back of the net. In the 12th minute Darlington Nagbe fired a long range bomb that gave Michael Gspurning fits. Portland's pressure just kept producing turnover after turnover and then chance after chance.

While dangerous chances were created it seemed like Portland were going to have one of those nights where the ball would just not go in the net. However if they were to get a goal then the flood gates might open. The flood gates were opened when Djimi Traore handled the ball in the box after a smart run by Jack Jewsbury forced him to try and cut off his run.

At first the center referee was not going to call the PK but after consulting with his assistant he pointed to the spot. As the AR and the center were getting an earful from the Sounders Futty Danso ran and grabbed a ball from a ball kid and stood near the penalty spot as if to say "I got this one". Will Johnson also got a ball and in the end Will won the battle and he stepped up and buried the ball in the back of the net.

Portland wasn't done and continued to look like a team hitting on all cylinders. The attacks were methodical and the carved up Seattle with ease. Seattle's only defense was to be physical and try to muck up the game. The plan didn't exactly work out well.

Minutes after suffering a hard foul Diego Valeri made a great run into the box and Rodney Wallace rewarded him with a pass. The pass and run took 5 Sounder defenders out of the play and easily created Valeri's first MLS playoff goal.

The second half started much like the first half ended, with a Portland goal. 2 minutes into the half Portland was all over Seattle and they won a free kick 35 yards out. Portland placed the ball quickly and played the ball out wide to a wide open Rodney Wallace. While Wallace was receiving the ball Futty was running from his central back position towards Seattle's box and when he saw RodWal recieve the ball he picked up his pace and hit the box at a full sprint and was completely unaccounted for due to the quick free kick. His header was easily placed past Gspurning and into the net for the Timbers third goal.

At this point the every Timber fan in the stadium thought the route was on and it almost turned into a rout. Portland had multiple chances as Seattle tried to send numbers forward in desperation. The game changed when Diego Valeri and Ryan Johnson were subbed off. Slowly Seattle started to get numbers forward and Portland looked like they had let off the gas.

This lack of intensity almost cost the Timbers. The Seattle Sounders scored two goals in less then two minutes in the 74th and 76th minutes. In the end the two goals were a wake up call to the Timbers and from that point on Portland refocused and salted the game away.

Observations

  • The game was probably the loudest sustained output from the TA I have heard. Great job!
  • Portland scored 5 goals by 5 different players. The 5 goals are tied for the most goals in a two leg series.
  • It took Portland 2 games to score 5 goals in the playoffs. Seattle took 10 games.
  • Portland was the only team to win the series without needing extra time.
  • Seattle looked wretched at times, specifically the two center backs and one media member said the second half start was the worst 90 seconds of soccer he has seen in a long time.
  • Seattle had more corners, possession, tied with Portland on shots. They dominated this game too, right? At least that is what the stats say.
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