Houston Dynamo 0-Portland Timbers 0
In a hard-fought match, the Dynamo and the Timbers tied scoreless in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal. In a match played in Houston on Monday night, the two teams were very cautious, and did not risk much in the first match of this series.
The Orange tried to take advantage of playing at home, but were unsuccessful in the attack. They controlled the midfield, but it seems they were more concerned on defending than attacking. In addition, its players in the last third were not as dynamic as they usually are. This is in part due to Portland’s gameplan where they neutralized the speed on the sides the Houston team has.
Portland, on the other hand, controlled the match in the first twenty minutes, but did not take many risks to take the lead. They let Houston controlled the ball, and forced them to centralize the game, which was something that benefit the Rose City team. In offense, Portland struggled. They created some chances via Diego Valeri, but all those opportunities were controlled by the home team’s defense and goalkeeper.
This was without a doubt a very tactical match. Portland was happy with the tie, whereas Houston was not happy, but they know that the tie was not a bad result at all since Portland did not score an away goal. We need to remember that if Houston gets a tie in Portland besides the 0-0, the Dynamo will advance to the Conference Final. Another scoreless match will force overtime and Penalty kicks if needed.
So, everything will be decided in Cascadia. Providence Park, house of the Timbers, is one of the hardest venues to play for a visiting side. Portland and its crowd makes the perfect scenario to have an intense conference semifinal where both teams will battle to keep on the run for the MLS Cup.