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Portland Timbers Book Place In MLS Is Back Final

Portland Timbers
Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco lifted in celebration | Photo by Portland Timbers | August 5, 2020

It looks like the Portland Timbers will stick around Mickey Mouse’s kingdom just a little longer as they outlasted a late Philadelphia Union comeback to book their place in the MLS Is Back Tournament final.

It was an open free-flowing match from kick-off, with both teams looking to get out in the forefront of the match, a style that suits the Timbers very well, especially with Diego Valeri returning to the starting eleven, making him the main outlet as the Timbers looked for fast transitions from the defensive block to the offensive attack. The return of Valeri to the starting lineup meant that Sebastian Blanco moved to a wider position in the attack, which was not a problem for Blanco as he continued to be the best player for the Timbers in the MLS Is Back Tournament.

It was a corner 13 minutes in that allowed the Timbers to take the early lead as Jeremy Eboblisse notched his fourth goal of the tournament as he lost his defender to smash home the header from eight yards away. 

Portland would feel that they should have extended the lead in the first half if it wasn’t for some great goalkeeping from Andre Blake of the Union that allowed Philadelphia to stay in the game. The most impressive was a Blanco left footed shot from outside the box that looked destined for the back of the net until Blake at full stretch was able to get a few fingertips on the ball and guide it outside of the goal.

Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers attacker Jeremy Ebobisse celebrates his goal | Photo by Portland Timbers | August 5, 2020

Blake keeping the Union in the game almost paid off, as late in the first half the Union was given a PK, the fifth the Timbers have allowed in this tournament. The PK call could be seen as a soft foul, the problem for the Timbers though, is that they’ve continued to put themselves in these situations game after game where they allow the ref to make a soft pk call in the first place. This time though, it wouldn’t bite the Timbers in the back because Sergio Santos shot the PK out of Disney World and into the freeway, giving the Timbers a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

Another corner in the 70th minute for the Timbers allowed them to double their lead as Dario Zuparic got the first header, allowing Blanco to come through the back door and slam home the second header to give the Timbers the second goal of the game and his third overall in the tournament. 

Portland Timbers

Sebastian Blanco of the Portland Timbers during the semifinal against Philadelphia Union | Photo by Portland Timbers | August 5, 2020

It looked like the Timbers were going to see the game out, but the Union would not go without a fight, as an Andrew Wooten goal off a free kick save pulled the Union back within one goal, and it was followed by a razor-thin tight offside call from another Union call. Because of the constraints of the MLS bubble, there aren’t as many cameras and camera angles allowed to see a close call situation of this nature, and there was not enough to overturn the offside goal, and the Union was left wondering what could have been.

Portland now awaits the winner of the Orlando vs Minnesota match to see who they will face in the MLS Is Back Tournament Final.

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