Houston, Texas: The Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers head to Portland with the West semifinals very much up for grabs after a goalless draw in Leg 1 of the Conference Semifinals, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston tonight, October 30. The match came a day after the 0-0 draw between Cascadia rivals Seattle and Vancouver, making it four goalless halves in the Western Conference semifinals.
Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made the big plays when necessary–including denying Alberth Elis on a breakaway and tipping a threatening Philippe Senderos header over the bar–to keep the Dynamo at bay.
Portland’s best chance came early, and it could have totally altered the outlook of the night. Diego Valeri had put it on a platter for Darlington Nagbe in the sixth minute with a cross off the outside of his right boot, but Nagbe, given a straightforward chance from the top of the box, simply missed the target. It’s a chance that you’d expect Nagbe to bury.
Later in the opening half, Houston nearly struck on a counterattack, only for starting forward Mauro Manotas to put his clear header wide of the post. MLS playoff series often come down to fine margins–these are this one’s.
The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals is a home and home two game series.
Houston has now only lost once in 14 MLS home playoff games (8W-4D). They have kept nine clean sheets across those 14 matches.
The Dynamo were a paltry 1-9-7 away from home, and they’ll need a result at the daunting Providence Park to keep their season going. They’ll only need a scored draw, though, given that they managed to keep Portland off the board and would seize any away-goals advantage with a tally in the Pacific Northwest.