Everything is there to play for in the return leg after the Portland Timbers and Sunday night guests Sporting Kansas City battled to a hard-fought scoreless draw in the Providence Park opening leg of the Western Conference Final.
Though the Timbers had the better of the play for most of the night, neither team gave an inch willingly. As such, neither team was able to forge an edge heading into Thursday's second leg in Kansas City (9:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN2, TVAS2).
Jeff Attinella (6) - The Timbers backstop had very little of note to do besides intercepting a late centering feed.
Zarek Valentin (7) - If you want to know why Daniel Salloi was unable to get loose for any mischief, look no further. Valentin was in every light blue shirt he could find on the way to 18 total defensive stops. His work on the ball was more of a mixed bag: several positive passes into the final third cancelled out by a handful of bad giveaways in his half.
Larrys Mabiala (6.5) - Before leaving less than 20 minutes in with an injury, Mabiala was off to a strong start.
Liam Ridgewell (8) - The veteran defender punctuated his performance with a pair of massive blocks, but that certainly wasn't the end of his excellence on this night. Ridgewell effectively nullified a physical center forward and incisively played a host of positive passes to feed the attack crew.
Jorge Villafaña (7) - Apart from being badly burned on a late Johnny Russell attack, Villafaña hardly put a foot wrong on the night. He nearly got on the board early with a drive off the inside of the post and consistently stepped up to make smart plays on both sides of the ball.
David Guzman (7) - The Costa Rican international was solid defensively and played some tempting lead balls into the final third.
Diego Chara (7) - It was a strong two-way showing for the Timbers midfield motor. In addition to his usual foreboding nature down the middle, Chara also led some dangerous surges forward.
Diego Valeri (6.5) - Though the Portland star was never able to conjure magic from the run of play, but his consistently dangerous restart deliveries saved his grade.
Dairon Asprilla (6.5) - The right winger troubled Sporting KC's defense throughout the contest, but wasn't quite able to complete his surges with the right final ball.
Sebastian Blanco (7) - See Asprilla, and then double it. Blanco's mark gets a small bump because his high pressing was a big bother.
Jeremy Ebobisse (4.5) - The young forward's hold-up play was spotty, and a poor first touch stopped him from getting a shot off from the best entry pass he received all night.
Coach Giovanni Savarese (6) - There's not much to complain about regarding his lineup and tactical choices, but Savarese probably should have made the striker change much earlier.
Bill Tuiloma (7) - It's never easy to step into the backline as an early injury sub, but Tuiloma handled the assignment very well from a defensive standpoint. He also forced a late save by getting to the end of a restart, but needs to be more careful passing out of the back.
Lucas Melano (6) - The striker showed some jump off the bench, it's only a shame he didn't have longer to come up with an impact play.
Sporting Kansas City
Tim Melia (7) - As has become the norm, Melia made six saves look easy.
Graham Zusi (7.5) - While Zusi's passing game was a shade off, he made up for it at the defensive end. Among 15 total stops was a huge intervention to deny Valeri a golden chance.
Ike Opara (6.5) - The center back was the least busy of the visitors' defenders, but still solid when called upon.
Matt Besler (7.5) - The Sporting KC captain was a bit shaky in the early going, especially with marking on set pieces. However, Besler rallied strong to enjoy a monster second half and passed out of the back well.
Seth Sinovic (4.5) - The left back had all sorts of trouble corralling Asprilla in the first half, giving up danger free kicks and several crosses out of his corner. He also improved after the break, making four second half tackles, but his passing needs to be better.
Ilie (6.5) - Add the Spaniard to the list of Sporting KC players that played better after intermission than they did before it.
Roger Espinoza (6.5) - The Honduras veteran was arguably the away side's most consistent performer in the game, but he also needs to take better care of the ball in his own end.
Felipe Gutierrez (4.5) - The Chile international was not able to get much done in the central channel and had to steer out wide to find the game. Add him to the list of SKC players that turned the ball over too freely.
Johnny Russell (5) - It was an underwhelming display from the wily winger, who didn't have Portland shaking in their boots until the waning moments. More hurtful than Russell's lack of true industry was a free shot he skied over from near the spot just after halftime. Woof to that one.
Daniel Salloi (4.5) - The Homegrown attacker looked very tentative with the ball at his feet near the Portland box and was almost no help in the away team's build. Salloi did, however, recognize Sinovic's struggle and got back to help defensively on several occasions.
Khiry Shelton (5) - The athletic striker spent nearly the whole game with his back to goal, never causing much of a scoring threat. Shelton did tee up Russell's wasted chance, but most of his hold-up play was adequate at best.
Coach Peter Vermes (6) - It felt like much of Sporting KC's offensive lethargy was down to the highly vanilla efforts of the players, and not a tactical issue. That said, Vermes did nothing to change things, using his lone substitute in stoppage time.
Yohan Croizet (-) - Not even enough time to break a good sweat.