Jun 15, 2013, 9:51 PM EST
In a brilliantly exciting match that featured 37 shots, it was the most unlikely one that picked up the huge three points for Portland.
Darlington Nagbe’s turn-around shot smashed the top corner of the net, and Dallas could do nothing to bring it back level, seeing their lead in the Western Conference sit at just one point.
Despite just the one goal, the match was entertaining to say the least, with goalkeeping at a world-class level and dangerous set-pieces dotting the landscape.
So what did this delightful two hours learn us?
1) Portland is peaking at the right time
It probably should have been more than just a one-goal gap between the teams as Diego Chara was stoned twice by Raul Fernandez and stuck a one-on-one chance wide, but the Timbers absolutely deserved the three points.
The new Western Conference leaders haven’t lost since March 9. It’s a real accomplishment that their unbeaten streak, which now sits at 13 matches, is still going strong – they’ve beaten the teams they should by scorelines they should (Portland 3-0 Chivas USA), salvaged gritty draws with tough opponents on the road (A surging Chicago 2-2 Portland), and picked up clutch wins against top teams when given the chance (Portland 1-0 FC Dallas, Kansas City 2-3 Portland).
With three straight away league matches before tonight, they picked up 5 points. The home shutout streak is up to over 480 minutes now, and even the most potent offenses can’t find an answer to Donovan Ricketts and his gang in front of goal.
Portland are in the middle of a stretch where they have to face 4 playoff-position teams in 6 matches, and the other two are in 6th place, plus Chicago. So that’s 6 top-6 clubs in 6 matches, plus Chicago. “They” always say peak at the end of the season, but by playing their best soccer yet during this stretch, it’s playing out perfectly for the Timbers.
2) Anyone is vulnerable when a team is missing players
Dallas’s “Big 3″ at the top were missing, and it showed. With Blas Perez on international duty with Panama and Kenny Cooper few home to take care of a family emergency, Eric Hassli only lasted 8 minutes before his back injury took its toll. That left David Arturo Ferreira and Je-Vaughn Watson to roam the attacking third, and it didn’t work out so well.
Let’s not take away from what Donovan Ricketts did between the sticks, as he was a major part of Portland’s win, stopping what chances the replacements were able to muster. But the Dallas buildup was seriously lacking at the front end, and it showed.
3) It’s the Western Conference’s season to lose
The top 3 clubs in the Western Conference this season have picked up 20 points from 13 matches against the East. The top 3 clubs in the Eastern Conference have just 15 points in 11 matches. That’s not a huge difference, but if it weren’t for Montreal, they’d have just 5 points in 7 matches.
The Western Conference has beaten up on each other, but this is their season to drop the ball.
Nov 21, 2014, 9:20 PM EST
Zinedine Zidane can return to coaching after his nonsensical coaching suspension was lifted on Friday. Perhaps “qualified” needs redefining.
VIDEO: Louis van Gaal calls Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” praises versatility ahead of Arsenal showdown
Nov 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EST
Louis van Gaal has called Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” but a “fantastic player” nonetheless before Arsenal showdown.
Inside Look: All-time greats, LA Galaxy & Seattle Sounders, to square off in Western Conference Championship, leg 1
Nov 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EST
It’s tempting to look ahead and crown the LA Galaxy MLS Cup champions already. A word of warning: Don’t do it at the Sounders’ expense.
Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST
Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.
MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs
Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST
The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.
Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST
The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.
Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST
Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.
Nov 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EST
The quota request comes after the BBC conducted a “State of the Game” survey that dug into the international representation in the Premier League.
Nov 21, 2014, 12:50 PM EST
Can the Baggies improve on last year’s point at Stamford Bridge?
Nov 21, 2014, 12:40 PM EST
Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.
Nov 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
I’m a fan of Batman, but seems to me “The Dark Knight” should consider rocking Valencia’s bat rather than his own. Looks slick.
Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EST
Here’s how PST’s lead writer and editor sees things panning out this weekend.
Nov 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EST
So to the MLS players, coaches and “media members who regularly covered the league”, sit back and enjoy your biggest screw-ups.
Nov 21, 2014, 10:14 AM EST
Welbeck is used to being on the side of the favorites in this matchup, as Manchester United has dominated the series in recent years.
Nov 21, 2014, 9:25 AM EST
Danny Welbeck’s first Premier League game against his former team is just one subplot as the Gunners host the Red Devils.
Nov 21, 2014, 8:41 AM EST
All Americans plying their trade in the Premier League have a decent look at points, while two in the Championship will opening things up with Friday matches.
Nov 21, 2014, 7:49 AM EST
Paris Saint-Germain has claimed the last two Trophées with wins over Bordeaux and Guingamp, but this year’s table is clustered.
Nov 21, 2014, 12:17 AM EST
Swansea manager Garry Monk is hoping for the best as the Swans journey to play Manchester City at the Etihad this weekend.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:42 PM EST
Coupled with a breakout year from Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones’ skill and leadership have guided the New England Revolution to one of Major League Soccer’s most cohesive units.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 PM EST
Mascherano: “Messi didn’t say anything weird, he said what all football players are thinking.”
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