MLS Playoffs: Seattle-Portland game was best (and weirdest) in rivalry's 104 meetings

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 shootout win.

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.

Nov. 8 in Seattle
Seattle 3 Portland 2 (Aggregate: 4-4, Portland wins 4-2 on penalties). Goals: Ruidiaz, 68, Ruidiaz 90+3, Lodeiro pen. 97; Blanco (Asprilla) 78, Asprilla (Valeri) 93.
Seattle -- Frei, Leerdam (Bwana 85), Torres, Kim, Tolo, Alonso, Svensson, Shipp (Bruin 80), Rodriguez (McCrary 106), Lodeiro, Ruidiaz.
Portland -- Attinella, Powell (Valentin, 103), Mabiala, Ridgewell, Villafana, Flores (Olum 83), Chara, Polo (Asprilla 72), Valeri, Blanco, Ebobisse (Melano 89).
Shootout: Portland -- Melano – Goal, Valeri – Goal, Blanco – Goal, Ridgewell – Saved, Asprilla – Goal; Seattle -- Ruidiaz – Goal, Bruin – Missed, Alonso – Saved, Bwana – Goal.
Yellow Cards: Seattle -- Alonso 70, Ruidiaz 114; Flores 41, Valeri 96.
Att.: 39,542.
3 comments about "MLS Playoffs: Seattle-Portland game was best (and weirdest) in rivalry's 104 meetings".
  1. beautiful game, November 9, 2018 at 11:18 a.m.

    Never saw any qualities in Asprilla except that he is physically a beast. Otherwise, he does not bring any quality to the table...waste of roster space. 

  2. Arnold Ramirez replied, November 11, 2018 at 8:23 a.m.

    No wonder you are not coaching in MLS.

  3. John Soares, November 9, 2018 at 1:21 p.m.

    40,000 on a cold Thursday night.
    Soccer has arrived at least in some cities.

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