Both Portland Timbers and Minnesota United have advanced to the semifinals of the MLS is Back tournament played in Orlando. These two sides eliminated New York City FC and San Jose Earthquakes after interesting and attractive matches.
Portland’s Comeback for the Semis
Giovanni Savarese’s guys were down one goal against NYCFC, but they managed to get on top and eliminate the big rivals. The final result of this match was 3-1 for the Timbers, who are just one step away from their first finals since 2018.
“The team showed a strong mentality. I thought it was important that we were able to find the equalizer right after we got scored on. I think we had a little slow start, but then little-by-little we started picking it up,” said Savarese after the game.
The team from New York struck first, after 27 minutes of play. Jesus Medina was brought down in Portland’s box, getting a penalty which he later converted to a goal.
Yet, the Timbers didn’t crack down mentally, but responded, and two minutes before the end of the first half, Sebastian Blanco leveled the result. That turned out to be a game-changer for his team, as they received a massive morale boost before the pause.
Savarese sent Diego Valeri on the pitch, and that was a fantastic decision because this player repaid him with a go-ahead goal. His inch-precise strike in the 65th minute brought the lead onto Timbers’s side.
The entire situation on the pitch changed and Portland looked more confident now. That led to another score from their side. The stopwatch was showing 76th minute when Andy Polo scored arguably the best goal of the tournament of this crew. He went down the left flank, and just outside the box cut towards the middle, sending a rocket to the far angle of NYC’s goal.
Portland faces Philadelphia Union in the semis. That game is set for Wednesday, at 8 pm ET.
Loon Continue to Shock the World
Minnesota was considered to be one of the weakest teams before the start of the tournament. Fast forward a few weeks, and they are among the top 4 sides. The Loons trashed San Jose Earthquakes with 4-1.
United had a one-two punch during the middle of the first half, creating a 2-0 lead in two minutes.
At first, we saw Robin Lod netting in the 20th minute and shortly after, Jacori Hayes doubled the lead one minute afterward.
Some signs of hope for the Quakes appeared in the 50th minute once Magnus Eriksson decreased United’s lead from the penalty, but that didn’t last for too long.
Luis Amarilla brought back the two-goal lead to his team, calming down the rivals’ players. Until the end of the game, we saw Marlon Hairston scoring one more goal for Minnesota, and that was it from this event.
“I’ve probably got more faith in this group than anybody else, certainly more than you press people everywhere else, who continually seem to think that we struggle to get through. It’ll be interesting to read the narrative tomorrow,” said Adrian Heath, United’s head coach, who has been criticizing the reporters and the media in recent times.
Heath believes that they didn’t show any respect for his crew, ofter diminishing Minnesota’s success and favoring other teams.
The next opponent for United is Orlando City, a team where Heath worked from 2011 to 2016.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.