FRISCO, Texas — With a touch of luck, a lot of patience and finally a quality finish, the Portland Timbers did what they could to put themselves in the playoffs on Saturday night, defeating FC Dallas 2-0 at Toyota Stadium to stay alive in the Western Conference postseason chase.
The win at least temporarily moved Portland in front of Vancouver for the West’s fifth and final playoff spot. The Whitecaps will pass Portland if they beat Colorado at BC Place later Saturday night.
The loss stung Dallas, which would’ve moved past Real Salt Lake and into third in the West — thereby avoiding a midweek Knockout Round match — with a win. As is, fourth-seeded Dallas will host the Knockout Round game on Wednesday against Portland or Vancouver, with the winner taking on Seattle Sounders in the West Semis.
Darlington Nagbe put the Timbers ahead in the 43rd minute, scoring his first goal of the 2014 regular season to put a bow on a solid first half for Portland. Nagbe collected the ball in the center of Dallas’ third, taking a shot from distance that deflected off of veteran defender Zach Loyd, wrong-footed Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz and found the back of the net.
Dallas began to impose themselves at the start of the second half. FCD twice thought they’d found an equalizer, only to twice have goals called back by referee Jair Marrufo.
First, on a free kick from Michel in the 63rd minute, Fabian Castillo was judged to have used his hand to knock the ball home. Moments later, Castillo played the ball from near the end line back toward the penalty spot where Blas Perez put the ball home, but the assistant referee signaled that the ball had gone out for a corner before Castillo had crossed to the middle.
Portland salted the game away in the 82nd minute, when Maximiliano Urruti took a pass from Gaston Fernandez and turned well at the top of the box to power the ball past Seitz for his 10th goal of the year.
Both teams now await the result from Canada to see who Dallas will host in Wednesday’s play-in match. A Vancouver win over Colorado would see Dallas host the ‘Caps, while a draw or a Colorado win at BC Place would see the Timbers and FCD meet again in Wednesday’s Knockout Round.