After grueling SKC win, Houston ready for even bigger test vs. Portland

HOUSTON – Thing are about to get a whole lot harder for the Houston Dynamo.

After a grueling 120-minute Knockout Round win against longtime rival Sporting KC on Thursday night, the Orange now set their sights on the dangerous, and rested, Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

The No. 1 seed in the West, the Timbers will seriously test the Dynamo, who were locked into an ugly, physical scoreless affair with SKC until Alberth Elis broke through in the 94th minute to give Houston a 1-0 win.

“It’s an offensive team that has a lot of talent,” said Houston head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “It’s a team that’s riding momentum and they’re very dangerous. They came here and played us well. And when we visited them they came from behind [to win]. We know how difficult it’s going to be and how tough they are.”

The first meeting between the sides came all the way back on March 18. Erick “Cubo” Torres and Romell Quioto scored first half goals to give Houston a 2-1 halftime lead, but the Timbers hit back for three second half goals to record a 4-2 win at Providence Park.

Portland picked up another solid result in their second matchup of the year in Houston on July 29. Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco gave the Timbers a 2-1 lead before Juan David Cabezas scored in the 81st to give the Dynamo a 2-2 home draw. Though they conceded late to drop a couple of points, a draw in Houston was an impressive result this year – the Dynamo were 12-1-4 in the regular season at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Houston, who were 1-9-7 on the road in 2017, know that they’ll need to win at BBVA Compass Stadium in the first leg on Monday to have any shot of advancing past Portland (9:30 pm ET | FS1 in the US; TSN GO, TVAS in Canada).

“We know that we basically have to win at home if we want to advance,” said Elis. “So, on Monday, we’re going out looking for a victory.”

And what do the Dynamo need to do to secure a home victory and get a leg up in the series? Keep taking advantage of their speed on the counterattack and derail a Timbers’ offense that scored 60 goals in the regular season, third-most in MLS.

“They have a lot of attacking weapons. They are very quick, very good,” said Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric.

“We have to be prepared this week for the game on Monday and it’s going to be another tough game for us, but if we stay calm, composed, and ready to put in the work, I know the guys are ready to do that – so I’m really excited for Monday.”