It really only takes one. One goal. One miss. One Save. One magical moment. That is what happened for FC Dallas in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday night as they upset the Portland Timbers in a shootout that saw them score eight consecutive goals.
For the Timbers, Jorge Villafana had them on the cusp of advancing with an 82nd-minute go-ahead goal, but he became the first player to miss in the eighth round of kicks.
On the other end, it was Ricardo Pepi who scored the game-tying goal in stoppage time thanks to a lucky rebound in front of goal to send the game into extra-time and then into penalty kicks were a Dallas player failed to miss.
The game was tightly contested throughout the first half as the Timbers controlled the possession and chances but none were as good as a shot in the 30th minute from Franco Jara that beat Steve Clark. The goal unfortunately didn’t stand as video review determined the veteran striker was offside.
After the two teams traded goals in the ladder stages of the second half, it was the Timbers who nearly found the winner in extra time from Diego Valeri. The veteran chipped a left-footed shot over Maurer, only to see it ring off the far post and send the contest to penalty kicks.
Instant reaction: This one may go down in the ages and lore of the club history as one of the wilder and yet better games. We’ve said before that in the playoffs you need luck. Championship teams find luck along the way and Dallas certainly had some lucky bounces go their way in Portland on this night. Between the late game-tying goal from Pepi, the post coming up huge against Valeri, and the big stop from Maurer to end it all, it was luck and hope that guided the team to victory.
It is also kind of crazy that this is the first playoff win for the club since 2016. That feels like ages ago. Funny enough, this win was the first one in Portland since 2016 as well. Maybe that magical year is starting to rub off on this year for us.
Man of the Match: Give it to Pepi for the game-tying goal but also give it to Jimmy Maurer for coming up with the monster save deep into the penalty shootout.