SANTA MONICA – The Portland Timbers kicked off the MLS postseason with a hard fought 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals on Monday October 30, 2017 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The Timbers started the match without two of their usual starters. Midfielder Sebastián Blanco was out due to second degree burns received after a cooking accident involving boiling water. Defensive midfielder, David Guzman, missed the match as well after spraining a ligament during the Vancouver game.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of the things I said to the guys before the match that it’s fitting that we’re having to go to the bench in our first playoff game.” Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter said.
Nevertheless, the Timbers were still able to start the game off strong, with one of their best chances on goal coming early in the match. In the sixth minute of play, midfielder Diego Valeri sent a excellent curling pass into the box to an unmarked Darlington Nagbe. His shot went wide off the far post.
The Houston Dynamo also had a great opportunity in the first half due to the quickness of forward Alberth Elis , who in a transition play almost scored. Once Elis set things in motion, it made it easy for midfielder Tomás Martínez to send a cross ball forward Romell Quioto whose header on goal went wide.
While the first half was full of high energy and good opportunities on goal from both sides, it also marked the beginning of the Timbers injury plagued match. Near the end of the first half, Diego Chara went down after breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. After that, Larrys Mabiala left the match with a hip injury. A third injury occurred at the start of the second half when Darlington Nagbe went down due to a tight hamstring.
The second half continued to see many attempts on goal. One of the most notable chances of the second half for the Timbers was when defender Vytas found defender Liam Ridgewell from across the box for a close-range shot that was blocked by a Houston defender.
But in the end, both teams were left scoreless. The Timbers, who were down many of their key players managed to survive the whole of the match.
“I think under the circumstances, we’ll take the result. What I mean by circumstances is the playing field and obviously the three injuries.” Porter said.
Photos courtesy of ISI. Some content via Portland Timbers.