Sunday, November 22, 2015
PORTLAND, Ore. – Former Portland Timbers 2 loanee Dairon Asprilla was the difference as the Timbers took a 3-1 victory against FC Dallas on Sunday night at Providence Park in the first leg of the Western Conference Final in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The two sides will meet again next Sunday at Toyota Stadium with a place in the MLS Cup Final on the line.
Asprilla fired a brilliant strike home in the 53rd minute to give the Timbers a 2-0 lead after having previously provided the assist on Liam Ridgewell’s opener in the first half. Dallas pulled a goal back through David Texeira just past the hour-mark, but the Timbers struck through Nat Borchers moments into stoppage time to restore the two-goal advantage.
Portland almost struck inside the opening minute, but former Pittsburgh Riverhounds loanee Jesse Gonzalez made a big save from Lucas Melano with his right hand to keep his side from falling into an early hole. Gonzalez could do nothing in the 23rd minute, however, as Darlington Nagbe’s corner from the right was flicked on by Asprilla at the near post for Ridgewell to bundle home for the opening goal.
Asprilla, who appeared twice for T2 during the USL season, doubled the Timbers’ lead eight minutes into the second half after a half-clearance came to him on the right side, 35 yards from goal. The Colombian controlled, took a touch forward and then unleashed a curling blast that found the top-left corner of the net.
Nine minutes later, Dallas got a goal back as a brilliant pass by Mauro Diaz released Je-Vaughn Watson down the right side, and his low cross was met by Texeira at the near post for a deft flicked finish. As the game entered stoppage time, though, Borchers put home the rebound from a corner kick to give the Timbers a major advantage.
In the Eastern Conference Final, Justin Meram scored after just nine seconds, and Kei Kamara added a late second goal as Columbus Crew SC took a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls at Mapfre Stadium.
Meram’s goal came directly from the opening kickoff, as he set a new MLS Playoff record with a low finish from the center of the penalty area after some poor defending by the Red Bulls on a long pass upfield.
Columbus added an important second goal with five minutes to go as the Red Bulls’ defense froze after Cedrick’s weaving run and shot was parried by Luis Robles, only for Kamara to tuck away the rebound into an open net.
2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Final
Sunday, November 22
Columbus Crew SC 2, New York Red Bulls 0
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Portland Timbers 3, FC Dallas 1