EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day at 8 pm ET, full-match replays of MLS Classics will be released in their entirety on YouTube, Facebook, MLSsoccer.com, and the official MLS app (check out the full schedule). Among the MLS Classics: The Portland Timbers' legendary "Double Post" triumph over Sporting Kansas City in the Knockout Round of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Arguably the most iconic playoff moment in the history of Providence Park almost never happened at all.
In the single elimination opening round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs back in 2015, the Portland Timbers were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 87th minute, when Sporting Kansas City's Kevin Ellis headed home a dramatic equalizer that sent the contest into the extra time.
Then, in the sixth minute of the first extra period, Krisztian Nemeth scored another to put the visitors on the brink of pulling off the road upset.
With their playoff lives on the line, the Timbers remained down 2-1 until the 118th minute, when forward Maxi Urruti came to the rescue with a volley off a cross from Dairon Asprilla, sending the home crowd at Providence Park into a frenzy and forcing the match to be settled on penalty kicks. Just two minutes from seeing their season end on their home field, the Timbers suddenly and improbably had a lifeline.
HIGHLIGHTS: Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City | October 29, 2015
No one knew it at the time, but Urruti's clutch finish would be the catalyst for the real drama — which was only just getting started.
So, what happened?
The penalty kick shootout that followed is the stuff of legend.
There were two penalty kick saves and two misses by each team in the opening five rounds of the shootout and things would stay level until the ninth round, when Portland's Alvas Powell missed his shot, giving SKC a chance to win it with a successful conversion. Sporting rookie Saad Abdul-Salaam made the fateful walk to the spot.
What happened next is immortalized in Timbers lore forever. Abdul-Salaam sent Kwarasey the wrong way and hit a shot that looked for all the world that it would head right into the corner and nestle into the net.
"I see Adam diving the wrong way and I see the ball going into that corner and I just thought, 'Alright, that's it. That's gonna be it,'" Timbers defender Nat Borchers would later say.
Instead, the shot went off the post before ricocheting directly across the goal line and glancing off the OTHER post, while somehow never going in.
The shootout moved on, all the way to the 11th round, where it had to be decided by the goalkeepers, of course. Kwarasey drilled his shot before saving the attempt from Kempin, giving the Timbers the dramatic victory and sending them through to the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Double Post | Playoff Moments
Etched in history
The term "Double Post" has carried a special place in Timbers history ever since. A bar inside Providence Park was even named after it. Looking back on it now, the players involved still can't entirely believe that it actually happened.
"The science behind it," said former Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury, who missed a shot in that penalty kick shootout. "When you think of a right-footer that's bending it to the left corner, it hits the left post, must be spinning a certain direction — so when it ran across the line and didn't go in, we all just looked at each other in disbelief."
In the end, it was a perfect illustration of how thin the margins can be between euphoric victory and devastating defeat. The Timbers were a matter of inches from going home. Instead, "Double Post" happened and they wound up riding that wave all the way to the first MLS Cup title in team history.