LIVE from Goose Hollow, where the world can wait...for 90 more minutes, at least.
Before Brazil and Croatia kick off the World Cup at 8 p.m. (Greenwich Mean Time, yo) tomorrow, Soccer City USA will get one last look at its lads tonight(!) as the Timbers host FC Dallas in the final Major League Soccer match before a league-wide, two-week hiatus.
Sure, Portland will get a respite from its soccer jones on Tuesday (when PTFC hosts Orlando City's U-23 kiddos in a US Open Cup match), but the MLS-table-setting action pauses after this evening. And that's a bit of a bummer for the boys in
green and white red and black: After sulking around the bottom of the standings for much of the first few months of the season, Portland is within striking distance of playoff contention, riding an increasingly dangerous attack to a shot at nabbing third place in the Western Conference before the big break.
Oft-injured Dallas, meanwhile, is playing out its typical narrative—namely starting the season in fine form only to watch the wheels fall off. Four victories in their first five matches has yielded to one win in eight, but the Hoops did find victory in their last outing, a 3-2 win vs. Colorado.
Hey, these soccer games matter, too, guys! (Guys? GUYS!?) So click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe all the action—on and off the pitch.
Dallas' First XI—(6-7-3, 21 points)—Raul Fernandez in goal. Je-Vaughn Watson, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd and Moises Hernandez on defense. Victor Ulloa, Adam Moffat, Fabian Castillo and Andres Escobar at midfield. Tesho Akindele and Blas Perez up front.
Available: Chris Seitz, Nick Walker, Peter Luccin, Andrew Jacobson, Brian Span, Ryan Hollingshead and David Texeira.
Portland's First XI—(4-4-7, 19 points)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jorge Villafana, Pa Kah, Rauwshan McKenzie and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Capt. Will Johnson at midfield. Darlington Nagbe, Fandendo Adi and Steve Zakuani up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Jack Jewsbury, Danny O'Rourke, Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff, Maxi Urruti and Gaston Fernandez.
PREGAME: Lovely night here at Providence Park, which hasn't exactly been a fortress this season for Portland. The Timbers have won just once this year, but chances are looking good for that total to double tonight: PTFC has scored multiple goals in six of their last seven games after doing it once in their first eight.
They also have Adi, who's been a goddamn revelation. The current MLS player of the week has four goals and a pair of assists in just 226 minutes on the pitch. That's legit, y'all.
Dallas biggest danger? In a word, Castillo. The speedster loves to run wild on the flanks, which is something to keep an eye on.
Timbers Army unfurled a banner from the main capo stand pregame: "WE STAND WITH REYNOLDS—RIP Emilio #29" in honor of Emilio Hoffman. They'll also raise their scarves in remembrance at minute 29, his number for the Reynolds JV footy team. Class.
A pregame moment of silence just now for Hoffman before the anthem.
Timbers sporting Rose City red kids, while Dallas is wearing its blue shorts and blue/white-hooped blouses.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed to the South side...and away we go!
1st minute—Ball played ahead to Nagbe, who has a bit of a heavy first touch before driving a shot that's deflected out. Corner kick coming... It's sent in short and after another heavy touch, Valeri is upended and dispossessed.
2nd—Valeri with some silly-good dribbling before going ahead to Nagbe. Nothing comes of it, other than confirmation that Diego Valeri is really good at soccer.
3rd—Three HUGE saves by the Timbers on a mad scramble in front! Castillo drives left and plays a ball across that Ricketts gets a hand on. It lands at the foot of a Dallas player, who has a shot that's deflected by Chara. Another opportunity as the ball lands in front of Moffat, but Villafana is there to turn it away. Wow, extremely fortunate for Portland there. How did those all stay out of the net?! Corner coming.
5th—Back-to-back corners for Dallas. Nothing doing from either—the second yields only a hopeful shot from distance by Castillo. However, Ricketts is on the ground after the last exchange, and the trainer is out to visit.
7th—Ricketts back on his feet. Breathe.
9th—Harrington earns a corner after a foul near midfield and quick restart.
10th—TIMBERS NET ONE, BUT OFFSIDE IS CALLED. Corner sent in long and chipped back in the air for Valeri, who heads it across the goal. Johnson is there to head it down off Fernandez, and McKenzie is right there for the rebound. He boots it into the goal, but the ref immediately indicates someone in red was offside. Another wild sequence right in front of the goal.
13th—Zakuani plays a dangerous ball across the box for Adi, but Fernandez wisely gets to it first. All set up by some ping-pong action in front. Timbers offense is clicking, and they're knocking at the door.
14th—Escobar is rolling around, holding his face. Chara was the closest one to him, but it didn't appear he caught him with an errant hand. That might be Escobar trying to stem a little of Portland's momentum there.
17th—Valeri with a bad giveaway at the top of the Timbers' box and Castillo forges ahead. The Timbers' defense holds up, however, as Harrington ushers Escobar back out of the box.
18th—Dallas corner comes in and Watson gets a wide-open look, but RICKETTS WITH THE SAVE. McKenzie clears is over the line and the Timbers again escape.
20th—Another corner for Portland. Sends it in and Fernandez gets a hand on it. Villafana comes flying in with a shot and it's deflected out. The soccer ball looks more like a pinball in front of the net, but nothing comes of it.
24th—Zakuani gets 1-on-1 with Watson after some buildup and has a shot. It's deflected just over the net and we'll have yet another corner kick. Close call for Dallas here.
25th—Valeri swings it in, but Ulloa clears.
27th—DALLAS GOAL! Castillo deftly chests down a chipped ball into the box and he calmly knocks a rolling right-footed shot past an oncoming Ricketts and into the left corner of the net. Nice ball into the box by Perez and Castillo does the rest. Not a big window for him to shoot into, but he found it. Great individual effort by a very smooth attacking mid. Hoops lead 1-0.
30th—Timbers Army holding up their scarfs, chanting "YOU CANNOT STOP US" in honor of Emilio Hoffman for the 29th minute. Meanwhile, Perez gets a ball in the box and fires, but it's wide. Still dangerous, however, and Portland's back line looks shaky at the moment.
34th—Nagbe gets a ball from Valeri and beats a sliding defender. He dribbles into the box and plays it back to Valeri, whose shot is deflected high into the air. It falls to Zakuani, who tries a volley, but he mis-hits it and sails the shot over the net.
37th—Escobar again gets in the 18 and turns to strike it. He tries to bend it, but it sails on him. Goal kick, Portland.
39th—DALLAS GOAL! Wow, more direct play from the Hoops leads to a huge goal before the half. Ball played out wide to Akindele, who runs ahead and crosses a ball into the box. Castillo dummies it beautifully and Perez hammers it home, low and left past a diving Ricketts. Started with a poor pass from Johnson on the attack that was picked off by Watson, and even poorer defense by Chara. Yikes. Hoops lead 2-0 and this place is pretty quiet at the moment. Johnson looks livid as Valeri slowly walks the ball to midfield.
43rd—Zakuani with some fantastic footwork to beat two defenders and sends it into the box. It's knocked around and lands at the feet of Adi, who has a shot THAT'S DEFLECTED JUST WIDE. Great chance there for Portland.
45th—Timbers with a free kick from 40 out. Valeri bends a great ball in, and Adi leaps to head it JUST OVER THE BAR. Back-to-back great opportunities for Portland.
Three minutes of stoppage time...Dallas corner sent in to the arms of a leaping Ricketts. He tries to spring the attack, but his throw is a bit long, even for Zakuani. He runs it down and backheels to Nagbe, but he seems a bit surprised by it and Dallas gets it back...Adi dribbles ahead and fires a shot, but it's blocked by Moffat.
HALFTIME: Dallas leads 2-0. Portland's defense has looked shaky all night, and twice they've paid the price. A sloppy match to be certain, which appears to be just fine with Dallas. They're playing super direct and simply catching Portland's D off-guard.
Some stats: Portland out-shot Dallas 11-10 and had 59% of the possession. Dallas won 51% of duels and had five shots on target. We've had 11(!) corners.
Timbers slow to return from the locker room. Dallas was on the pitch with 2 minutes left on the clock.
Timbers sub: O'Rourke on for McKenzie.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army. And we're back at it!
47th—Timbers with quite a bit of possession to start. Harrington finally crosses an in-swinger into the box for Valeri, who heads it just left of the post.
49th—Timbers with a free kick after Adi is fouled. He stays down and walks off the field and goes down in a heap on the sideline. Meanwhile, Valeri blasts a free kick on-goal, but Fernandez is there to knock it away.
50th—Dallas on the counter and Castillo hits a shot on the run. Ricketts punches it high and over the line. Corner coming. Meanwhile, Adi is back on his feet and running back to the action. Corner comes in low, and Chara boots it away.
52nd—Hoops are really packing it in. All 11 players on defense at this point. Timbers will get the lion's share of the possession this half, but they'll have their work cut out for them to get legit chances.
53rd—PING PONG IN FRONT OF THE NET! Timbers have two shots going into the net, but Dallas' defense stands firm and saves a pair of goals. Lots of chances for Portland, but nothing comes of it. Adi picks up a yellow card sometime during that fracas.
57th—Dangerous bit of play in front of the net as Kah tries to hold off Perez after a long ball and won header by the Hoops. Kah plays it back to Ricketts, who shanks a clearance. It works, but it wasn't pretty.
60th—Adi fouled hard just inside midfield. That'll be a yellow on Keel. Timbers will make a sub: Fernandez on for Zakuani.
62nd—Harrington sends one in for Adi, who heads it down. Raul Fernandez comes out for it but can't find the handle. It bounces out to Johnson, who has a shot on the open net, but his shot SAILS OVER THE BAR. Johnson puts his head in his hands. The defense was closing, but Johnson wishes he had that one back.
67th—Villafana curls one into the box for Adi, but it's headed away.
68th—Johnson plays a ball into the box for Valeri, who drops back to Gaston Fernandez for a shot, but Raul Fernandez WITH A SLIDING SAVE. He got that one with his feet, and yet another chance for Portland comes up empty.
70th—Harrington floats in a cross for Johnson, but it's just behind him. Akindale is there to clear. Timbers knocking again and again, but Dallas is really sitting back and protecting their lead.
72nd—Nice buildup for Portland and Valeri dances along the east sideline. He jukes and crosses a dangerous ball into the box for Adi, who heads it down, but right at Raul Fernandez. Timbers keep knocking, and Dallas' defense looks like they're getting heavy legs.
73rd—Dallas sub: Jacobson on for Escobar, who's booed off the pitch.
75th—Valeri with a shot from distance, and it's knocked down to La Gata. He plays it back to Harrington, who sends a cross for Adi, but it's just high.
76th—Another wild sequence, and the ball falls to Adi, who has a shot that's deflected off Raul Fernandez. Corner comes in short and ball is played to Nagbe, who chips far-post for La Gata. He heads it toward Adi, but before anything happens, La Gata is called for a foul.
77th—Raul Fernandez shown a yellow for wasting time. After a goal kick, Timbers get it back and get it wide to Adi. He's fouled in the box and PENALTY KICK AWARDED TO PORTLAND.
79th—TIMBERS GOAL! Johnson finishes it off, and we have a ballgame. Johnson had to all but fight off La Gata to take that one, which was...weird. After MUCH DISCUSSION, Johnson lines it up, stutters and goes right. Raul Fernandez goes left and it's 2-1 Dallas. Here we go.
82nd—Timbers sub: Urruti on for Harrington. Porter with an offensive-minded sub here.
83rd—Fernandez HITS THE POST! Urruti plays one into the box that's deflected and it bounces to La Gata. He calmly gets a foot on it and shoots, but it nails the post. So close.
84th—Timbers on a corner. Valeri sends it in front for Urruti, who heads it across the goal and over the line. Goal kick, Dallas.
86th—Dallas with sub: Walker on, Akindele on. Walker's MLS debut.
87th—RED CARD ON DALLAS! Hernandez came in hot on O'Rourke, who got to the ball first and went down in a heap, holding his ankle. Ref pulls the straight red, and Hernandez is absolutely livid. Advantage, Portland.
89th—Oh boy. Timbers almost gave up a laugher here. Ricketts comes way out and tries a pass to midfield, but Moffat is there. He plays it ahead to Castillo, who's defended well by O'Rourke. He gets a touch on Castillo's shot, which was definitely on-goal. But it goes over the line, so we'll have a corner. Huge play by O'Rourke, potentially game-saving.
90th—Nothing doing on the corner. Another yellow on Dallas: It's on Perez for fouling Valeri at midfield.
Four minutes of stoppage time...Dallas with its last sub: Hollingshead on for Castillo, who's taking his time to get off the pitch....ANOTHER RED CARD ON DALLAS! Perez is sent off and so is a Dallas assistant coach, after he goes after a fan in the beer garden! Holy shit. Back to action...TIMBERS GOAL! It's Kah! We're tied at 2, and the Timbers have again salvaged a point from what looked like certain defeat. Kah's first career MLS goal, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Crazy.
FULL TIME: It's a 2-2 draw, and what a finish. Castillo goes running onto the pitch and chest-bumps the sideline official. Suspension coming for him, without a doubt.
Match report: Things got weird. Holy hell. That's one of the more wild finishes I've ever seen at this old park. Red cards, nutty goals, coaches getting tossed for fighting fans, and players trying to fight refs. This presser/locker room should be interesting to say the least.
Porter's postgame press conference:
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