Underdog: Dynamo's worst-to-first conference turnaround is within reach

Last in the Western Conference in 2016, the Houston Dynamo is now two games away from completing one of the most impressive turnarounds in MLS history.

The Dynamo came back from a goal down to beat the Portland Timbers, 2-1, and move into the Western Conference finals against Seattle on aggregate by the same score.

1. Remick and Manotas overturn Portland lead.

Houston came into the game with one win in 17 games on the road in the regular season and lost goalkeeper Tyler Deric (suspended after his arrest in an alleged domestic violence incident) and left back DaMarcus Beasley (a late scratch with a quad strain) for the second leg

Portland took the lead in the 38th minute when Beasley's replacement, Dylan Remick, slipped, allowing Dairon Asprilla to score. But the Timbers' lead lasted just five minutes as Remick scored off a free kick played into the area.

As the Timbers pressed for the victory they needed to win the series, 22-year-old Colombian Mauro Manotas added to Houston's advantage when he beat Jeff Attinella with a bouncing shot.

2. Cabrera pushes the right buttons.

The Dynamo will made its seventh trip to the conference final in 12 years but it had gone three straight years without making the playoffs. First-year coach Wilmer Cabrera has rebuilt team with only four starters in Sunday's game on the Dynamo in 2016.

But besides Deric and Beasley, Cabrera had to replace starting right back A.J. DeLaGarza (torn ACL) before the Knockout Game against Sporting KC and center back Leonardo was injured in the Knockout Game.

For the conference semifinals, Cabrera also replaced captain Ricardo Clark with Eric Alexander in midfield. Alexander, who has played for five MLS clubs in eight seasons, started only 14 regular-season games in two seasons with Dynamo but he had a strong game in midfield against the Timbers.

3. Injury bug continues for Timbers.

The Timbers entered the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference, but nothing went right for them in the semifinal series.

They lost David Guzman (knee sprain) and Sebastian Blanco (foot burned by hot water) for the first leg against the Dynamo, and it got worse from there. Diego Chara, the glue to the Portland midfield, broke his foot in the 0-0 tie in Houston. Center back Larry Mabiala also went off with an injury in the first leg and didn't return for the second leg. Mabiala's replacement was supposed to be Roy Miller, but the Costa Rican ruptured his Achilles heel in training on Saturday.

Up front, the Timbers hoped to get Fanendo Adi, out for three months with a hamstring injury, back for the conference final, but his replacement, Darren Mattocks, went off after 12 minutes with a head injury.

"It was a tough ending," said Portland coach Caleb Porter. "We knew it was going to be a big ask. A lot to manage in this game, but I think the group believed because we’ve managed a lot in a lot of other games."

Nov. 5 in Portland, Ore.
Portland 1 Houston 2
POR: Dairon Asprilla (Vytas, Diego Valeri) 38
HOU: Dylan Remick (Jalil Anibaba, Tomas Martinez) 43
HOU: Mauro Manotas (Eric Alexander) 77
Portland -- Attinella, Powell, Olum, Ridgewell, Vytas (Barmby 81), Okugo (Blanco, 54), Guzman, Asprilla, Valeri, Nagbe, Mattocks (Ebobisse, 12).
Houston -- Willis, Anibaba, Machado, Senderos, Remick, Alexander, Martinez (Garcia, 83), Cabezas, Elis, Torres (Manotas, 73), Alex (Quioto, 86).
Att.: 21,144.
(Houston wins 2-1 on aggregate.)

2 comments about "Underdog: Dynamo's worst-to-first conference turnaround is within reach".
  1. beautiful game, November 6, 2017 at 12:02 p.m.

    This game is another example of MLS mediocrity...same said for the Sounders v Whitecaps and NYRB v Toronto...those who think that MLS quality is improving are delusional. Soccer IQ on the pitch is deplorable...for every good player on most squads there are 4 mediocre ones...the comment during the Dynamo v Portland game goes asfollows: ..."Torres (Dynamo) was a candidate for the player of the year award...he hasn't scored since August." And not one word about Torres' et al total incompetence on the pitch. As for coach Porter having Asprilla on the squad is a question of his competence in palyer selection.

  2. Goal Goal replied, November 6, 2017 at 4:52 p.m.

    Ditto!

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