FC Dallas pulled off a stunning upset, topping the Portland Timbers on penalty kicks in their Round One matchup in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after forcing extra time thanks to a last-gasp equalizer from Ricardo Pepi.
Jorge Villafana had the Timbers on the cusp of advancing with an 82nd-minute go-ahead goal, but Pepi found a rebound finish just before the final whistle to force extra time and the penalty kick shootout, in which Dallas prevailed after Villafana became the first player to miss in the eighth round of kicks.
Portland controlled the action and had the better of the chances throughout the first half, but it was FC Dallas who thought they had the opener against the run of play on the half-hour mark. Forward Franco Jara got behind the Timbers back line and ran onto a through ball from Andres Ricaurte before ripping home the breakaway finish past Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark and into the net, but the goal was disallowed on Video Review, as Jara was deemed just offside.
Portland continued to rack up the chances, finally finding their breakthrough in the 82nd minute when Villafana collected a feed from Diego Valeri and smashed home a close-range finish from a difficult angle.
Dallas nearly equalized in the 89th minute, as Pepi flicked a header that appeared bound for goal, only to be denied by a sprawling save from Clark that looked like it would spell the end for FC Dallas. But the 17-year-old Homegrown attacker would send the contest to extra time in dramatic fashion, making a charging run behind the Portland back line and hit his initial shot off the post before cashing home the point-blank rebound in the 93rd minute.
Valeri nearly bagged a spectacular winner on the last kick of extra time, chipping an audacious left-footed shot over Maurer, only to see it ring off the far post and send the contest to penalty kicks.
The shootout went back-and-forth with clinically converted kicks, until Villafana was stuffed by Jimmy Maurer to set off a wild celebration for the visitors, who advance to the Western Conference Semifinals to take on either the Seattle Sounders or LAFC.
Watch: Penalty kick shootout
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's an agonizing way for the Timbers to see their season come to an end, coming in as the favored side on their home turf, only to fall in a shootout that wouldn't have even happened if Valeri's late chip had gone in. This one stands to haunt Gio Savarese and his group all offseason. On the flip side, it's nothing but jubilation for a young and hungry FC Dallas side that showed a ton of moxie in forcing extratime and coolly converting all their looks from the spot. Don't expect them to be an easy out in the West Semis, whether it's Seattle or LAFC they're facing.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Portland were just seconds away from advancing when Pepi came through with his crucial finish. The kid has ice in his veins.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It has to be Pepi. With only 529 career MLS minutes under his belt coming into the match, we might well look back at this as the moment one of the league's bright young talents burst onto the scene for good.