FRISCO, Texas - After a scorching run through the end of the season and the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, the Portland Timbers have booked their first-ever berth in the MLS Cup.
While needing at least two goals to advance or force extra time, Dallas played the roles of the aggressors in the first half, but still missed on a handful of chances in the final third. The two teams would go into half deadlocked at 0-0.
After the break, Fanendo Adi found himself in prime position in the 54th minute to all but seal Portland’s trip to either Columbus or New York next weekend. After working the right flank, Diego Valeri found Adi alone in front of the net with Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman on the ground. Adi was able to fire the ball off of Jesse Gonzalez’s right foot, ricocheting into the net for 1-0 lead. Zimmerman was making only his third start since mid-June in place of Zach Loyd.
Dallas would not give up, however. After being on the defensive often in the first half, defender Ryan Hollingshead found the back of the net in the 69th minute. Argentine midfielder Mauro Diaz took a pass from Je-Vaughn Watson at the top of the Portland box and found Hollingshead streaking down the left flank. Hollingshead drilled the ball to the opposite corner, squeaking it inside the left post to draw even at 1-1.
Just four minutes later in the 72nd minute, Diaz was able to thread another high-arcing pass, this time off a free kick. The ball found the head of a charging Blas Perez, who substituted into the game in the 66th minute, and he put it past Adam Kwarasey to give Dallas a 2-1 lead and a hope of forcing extra time.
But the two quick goals in a four minute span was all Dallas was able to muster, as Portland hung tough through the final 20 minutes. Dallas threw out all the stops, including subbing in Michel for Hollingshead in the 86th minute to attempt to capitalize on set piece opportunities.
Forward Lucas Melano was able to add a cushion goal in stoppage time after the furious Dallas rally, leaving the score level at 2-2.
They will await the winner of Columbus Crew SC and the New York Red Bulls for their opponent in the MLS Cup next week (4 pm ET; ESPN/UniMás in US; TSN/RDS in Canada).