Giovanni Savarese - 2020 - close up

In the cruelest way, the Portland Timbers' Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One ouster on penalty kicks to FC Dallas was a microcosm of their season.

The Timbers had control of the match, squandered scoring chances and conceded late before FC Dallas prevailed on penalties.

“It’s unfortunate today that we finished this way, a match in which we had in control, a match in which we should finish 1-0,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said after the match. “But unfortunately something that not only has happened today, but has also happened a few other times — the closing of the match, the final minutes, we needed to be better. And we allowed a moment for Dallas to find themselves a goal and then they believed again at the last second.”

Watch: Ricardo Pepi scores late equalizer for FC Dallas

Ricardo Pepi’s stoppage-time equalizer, which canceled out Jorge Villafana’s opening goal in the 82nd minute, was the fourth goal the Timbers conceded after 90 minutes this season. No team has allowed more than two, per Opta.

It was also the 15th time this season Portland conceded after the 75th minute.


“It was difficult because we believed in ourselves to be able to continue, but at the end you can believe all you want, you need to execute,” Savarese said. “Today, we did the majority of the game what we needed to do, but giving the goal at the end of the 90 minutes put us in a lot of difficulties.”

Savarese lauded his team for their resolve during a challenging season and their historic capture of the MLS is Back Tournament title won’t soon be forgotten. It also ensures the Timbers will play in the Concacaf Champions League. Those are positives Savarese can take away, but the immediate sting of conceding another late goal will likely last a while.

“The fact that we went out today at the first playoff match is something that is not going to make us happy especially to the fact that we had the game in control,” Savarese said. “We, in the last minute, allowed a goal to come in that changed the trajectory of everything that we did well during the match.”