Diego Valeri came on as a substitute and scored the go-ahead goal in the second half, helping the Portland Timbers to a 3-1 victory over New York City FC that sends them on to the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament.
Jesus Medina scored the opener for NYCFC in the 27th minute, but a trio of unanswered tallies from Sebastian Blanco, Valeri and Andy Polo would stand as the difference in the Saturday evening quarterfinal matchup between the sides.
NYCFC jumped on top in the first half after Portland defender Larrys Mabiala was whistled for a foul on Medina in his own box, allowing the Paraguayan to convert the opener from the spot.
The Cityzens wouldn't be able to get that lead to halftime, though, as Blanco collected a deflected cross from Jorge Villafana and curled home a gorgeous finish past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson to equalize the contest at 1-1 in the 43rd minute.
Valeri found the go-ahead goal in the 65th minute, slotting home a feed from Jaroslaw Niezgoda past Johnson, with Polo adding a highlight-reel finish in the 76th to round out the scoring to clinch Portland's spot in the semifinals, where the Philadelphia Union await.
- 27' - NYCFC - Jesus Medina | WATCH
- 43' - POR - Sebastian Blanco | WATCH
- 65' - POR - Diego Valeri | WATCH
- 76' - POR - Andy Polo | WATCH
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
Blanco has been Portland's most influential player in the tournament and he displayed great composure on his latest goal, which was a great highlight. He also picked up an assist on Polo's goal, and has a legitimate shout for tournament MVP at this point.
- THE BIG PICTURE: In tournaments like these, veteran experience and savvy can prove crucial, and Portland are showing us why. Their core might be on the older side, but they've been all business, stacking up impressive results and rewarding themselves with a deserved trip to the semis. It would be unwise to discount them, even against a Philadelphia side that's in plenty good form in their own right.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It was anyone's game for the taking until Valeri gave the Timbers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: There aren't many players in MLS that NYCFC like seeing less than Blanco. This was the Argentine's third straight game with a goal against the Cityzens dating back to 2018. His five assists also leave him tied with Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo for tops among all players at the tournament
- NYCFC: End of Tournament
- POR: Wednesday, August 5 vs. Philadelphia Union, MLS is Back Tournament semifinals (8 pm ET | FS1, TUDN in US; TSN in Canada)