Because the Seattle International Car Show booked Seattle's CenturyLink for the weekend, the second leg of the Portland-Seattle Western Conference series had to be played on a Thursday night, and it
was almost 2 a.m. ET when it ended.
But fans who stayed up
witnessed perhaps the weirdest game in MLS playoff history. The Portland-Seattle series lived up to its billing as the greatest rivalry in MLS, producing a crazy match that ended with the Timbers
winning in a shootout -- but not before the Sounders came back three times from a series deficit -- 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 -- to send the game to penalty kicks.
The crazy part -- well, only the
creme de la crème of a wild evening -- was that at least one of the game's main protagonists, Argentine Sebastian Blanco, celebrated after the whistle blew at 120 minutes, seemingly
thinking, his team, the Timbers, had won on away goals, until teammate Zarek Valentin came over and explained that MLS doesn't count away goals in overtime.
You had the feeling
that neither team wanted to win the series as all five goals in the Seattle 3-2 win in the second leg came off defensive mistakes.
-- For over an hour, Seattle poured cross after cross
into the penalty area without getting anywhere until the 68th minute when Portland keeper Jeff Attinella dropped a cross, allowing Peruvian Raul Ruidiaz to sneak in and slam the loose
ball into the empty net. The series was tied 2-2 on aggregate, but Seattle had the advantage of the away goal.
-- But less than 10 minutes later, Portland regained the aggregate lead when
Kim Kee-hee failed to clear a ball, playing it to Timbers sub Dairon Asprilla, who set it up for Blanco to fire inside the far post.
-- Needing another goal to tie the
series and send it to overtime, Seattle struggled to create chances until the third minute of stoppage time when Blanco tried to clear a ball but played it back into the middle of the area, putting it
on a platter for Ruidiaz to volley home. On to overtime the Cascadia rivals went.
-- Just three minutes into overtime, Diego Valeri lofted a ball into the area, where Asprilla
broke between Roman Torres and Kim to and headed a fierce past Sounders keeper Stefan Frei. The Timbers were back ahead in the series for the third time on the evening.
But that lead lasted only four minutes as Blanco was called for a handball and Nicolas Lodeiro scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 on the evening and 4-4 on aggregate.
That's where the game ended, and after the confusion about the outcome was cleared up, the teams went to penalty kicks.
Undaunted, Blanco went out and converted the third penalty kick for
the Timbers. With game on the line, Frei stopped Liam Ridgewell's shot in the fourth round, but Asprilla, the game's unlikely hero, scored on the fifth attempt to give the Timbers a 4-2
Asprilla had such a poor season -- one goal in 17 games -- he was relegated to playing for T2, the Timbers' second team, in the USL playoffs. Three weeks later, he came off
the bench to score one goal, set up another and convert the winning penalty kick in the shootout.