The Timbers' task was just as formidable on Thursday night -- at No. 1 seed Sporting KC in front of 20,091 fans at
Children’s Mercy Park.
They didn't carry the luxury of a home win from the first leg to KC like they took to Seattle, but not allowing a goal at Providence Park proved decisive.
Portland was played off the park in the first half, and it was lucky to trail by only 1-0. But all Sporting KC's domination and all the noise at Children’s Mercy Park went out the window when Sebastian Blanco scored one of the most stunning goals in MLS playoff history.
Blanco was given time to line up a long-range blast from the left side and he gave SKC keeper Tim Melia no chance with a shot into into the top corner of the goal. The score was 1-1, but Portland was ahead thanks to its away goal.
Soon a second goal came -- and Blanco was involved again. The Argentine fed Jeremy Ebobisse, who beat SKC defender Ike Opara and played the ball forward in the air, where Diego Valeri pounced to make it 2-1 with a header.
Sporting KC now needed two goals. It continued to attack, throwing everything it had at the Timbers. Portland keeper Jeff Attinella made big stops on sub Gerso Fernandes and Felipe Gutierrez before Fernandes tied the match at 2-2 with a goal in the 81st minute.
Still, the advantage was to the Timbers thanks to their away goals, and Sporting KC needed a third goal. It never came. Instead, Valeri put the series beyond doubt with his second goal of the game and fourth of the 2018 playoffs -- all on the road.
Portland advanced to MLS Cup thanks to a 3-2 win over Sporting KC. Once again, the Timbers will be on the road, playing at Atlanta on Dec. 8, but they are already ready.
They've lined up a truck to transport Timber Joey’s Victory Log from its home at Providence Park in downtown Portland to Atlanta. The log is expected to arrive in Atlanta by next Thursday, two days before the game.
Nov. 29 in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC 2 Portland 3. Goals: Salloi (Rubio) 20, Fernandes 81; Blanco (Villafana) 52, Valeri 61, Valeri (Chara) 90+9.
Sporting KC -- Melia, Zusi, Opara, Besler, Sinovic, Espinoza, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Russell (Croizet, 90), Rubio (Nemeth, 70), Salloi (Fernandes, 65).
Portland -- Attinella, Valentin (Powell, 80), Tuiloma, Ridgewell, Villafaña, Chara, Guzman (Olum, 84), Polo (Asprilla, 72), Valeri, Blanco, Ebobisse.
Yellow Cards: Sporting KC -- Rubio 47; Portland -- Valentin 17, Guzman 45+4, Villafana 90+5, Asprilla 90+6.
Referee: Mark Geiger. Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Matthew Nelson. 4th Official: Baldomero Toledo. VAR: Dave Gantar