Date: Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Forecast: 49 degrees, sunny
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Ian Anderson Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar
National TV: FOX Sports 1
Talent: John Strong (play-by-play), Alexi Lalas (analyst), Julie Stewart-Binks (sideline)
English Radio: 750/102.9 The Game (KXTG 750AM, 102.9FM)
Talent: Keith Bleyer (play-by-play), Ross Smith (analyst)
Spanish Radio: La GranD (KGGD 93.5FM, 1150 AM)
Talent: Josue del Castillo (play-by-play), Ozkar Ramos (analyst)
Sunday’s match between Portland and FC Dallas marks the first leg of the 2015 Western Conference Championship series and the second time in the last three seasons that the Timbers have reached this stage of the postseason. Portland last reached the Western Conference Championship in 2013 and missed out on the postseason in 2014 by just one point. Sunday’s match will be Portland’s third home playoff game following a penalty-kick shootout win against Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 29 and a scoreless draw against Vancouver in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 1. FC Dallas enters Sunday’s match after a 4-2 penalty-kick shootout win against Seattle Sounders FC in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8. FC Dallas, the conference’s No. 1 seed, finished the regular season with a five-game unbeaten run (4-0-1).
LAST MATCH RECAP
The Timbers registered their second straight shutout in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, advancing to the Western Conference Championship for the second time in the last three seasons with a 2-0 win (2-0 on aggregate) against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals in front of 27,837 fans at BC Place in Vancouver on Nov. 8. Forward Fanendo Adi registered his first career postseason goal for Portland in the 31st minute, firing a left-footed effort past Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted following assists from midfielders Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace – providing the Timbers with a critical away goal and an early lead. Midfielder Diego Chara added a second goal for the Timbers late in the match, converting a shot from inside the box following an assist by Adi in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
Hosts Fletcher Johnson and Ross Smith talk with Timbers defender Jorge Villafana and assistant coach Cameron Knowles about the team's run in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs and the upcoming Western Conference Championships first leg Sunday against FC Dallas (4:30pm PT, FS1). We also hear from FOX Sports soccer announcer John Strong.
LAST TIME VS. FC DALLAS
The Timbers could not overcome an early first-half deficit in a 4-1 loss against Western Conference foe FC Dallas before 15,992 fans at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on July 25. Michael Barrios registered a brace, while Kellyn Acosta tallied a goal and an assist and Mauro Diaz pitched in a penalty kick for FC Dallas. Timbers forward Fanendo Adi netted a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, as debutant Lucas Melano drew the foul.
ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES
Sunday’s match marks the first time Portland and FC Dallas meet in MLS postseason play, but the 14th all-time meeting between the two clubs since 2011. The Timbers have compiled a 5-4-4 record against FC Dallas since 2011 and are unbeaten at home (4-0-2) in six games at Providence Park. Portland has lost just two matches in their last nine regular-season meetings with FC Dallas (4-2-3) while the Timbers have scored multiple goals in three of their last four regular-season meetings against head coach Oscar Pareja’s side. Sunday’s match marks the third meeting of 2015 across all competitions, as Portland earned a 1-1-0 record against FC Dallas during the regular season.
SCOUTING FC DALLAS
FC Dallas enters Sunday’s match after defeating Seattle Sounders FC in a dramatic, 4-2 penalty kick shootout win in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 8 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. After earning a 2-1 lead after regulation and pushing the series to a 3-3 tie on aggregate, FC Dallas and Seattle played through two scoreless, 15-minute periods of extra time before heading to penalty kicks to decide the winner. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez recorded two penalty-kick saves to help FC Dallas advance to the conference championship. The conference’s No. 1 seed, FC Dallas entered the postseason after securing a first-round bye, finishing the regular season with the most wins (18) and highest goal differential (+13) in the conference. FC Dallas is led by the duo of forward Fabian Castillo (9g, 9a) and midfielder Mauro Diaz (8g, 10a).
The Timbers and New York Red Bulls are the only two teams that have registered two shutouts during the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Portland logged back-to-back clean sheets against Vancouver (Nov. 1 and Nov. 8), while New York logged shutouts in consecutive, 1-0 wins against D.C. United in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Since the 2013 season, the Timbers have posted a regular-season record of 13-3-7 overall during the months of September and October, including a mark of 6-1-3 at Providence Park.
The Timbers defense finished the season tied for first in MLS with 13 clean sheets in 34 games. Over the last three seasons, Portland has registered the most shutouts (35) among all MLS teams.
The Timbers roster features 117 combined games of MLS Cup Playoffs experience with defender Nat Borchers (26 appearances) leading the way. Midfielder Will Johnson (18) is second, while midfielder Jack Jewsbury (16) ranks third in career postseason appearances. Borchers and Johnson helped Real Salt Lake win the 2009 MLS Cup in penalty kicks against the LA Galaxy, while Borchers also helped guide Real Salt Lake to the 2013 MLS Cup as RSL lost on penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City. Jewsbury started and played 66 minutes for the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) in the 2004 MLS Cup as Kansas City lost 3-2 against D.C. United. FC Dallas’ roster features 75 combined playoff games.
Over the last three seasons, the Timbers have compiled regular-season point totals of 57 (2013), 49 (2014) and 53 (2015), reaching the postseason in two of the last three years. Over that span of time, Portland’s combined point total (159) ranks as the fourth most in MLS, behind only the New York Red Bulls (169), Seattle Sounders FC (167) and LA Galaxy (165).
Portland finished as the best team in the league when scoring the all-important opening goal this season. The Timbers registered an undefeated 14-0-2 overall record when scoring first and were one of just two teams (Houston, 10-0-4) to have never lost after scoring the opening goal.
WINNING AT HOME
The Timbers finished among league leaders with an 8-3-6 overall record at Providence Park during the 2015 season, including a Timbers MLS-club-record-tying streak of five straight wins from May 27-July 5. Portland has compiled one of the league’s best home records with an overall mark of 24-7-20 (.667) over the last three seasons since 2013. The Timbers’ seven home losses since 2013 is the second fewest of any team in the league over that span of time.
Timbers midfielders Darlington Nagbe (United States) and Will Johnson (Canada) and defender Alvas Powell (Jamaica) all earned international caps for their respective national teams during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches on Nov. 13 and Nov. 17. Nagbe made his U.S. Men’s National Team debut on Nov. 13 in a 6-1 win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, playing the final 26 minutes. He earned his second cap as a substitute in a scoreless draw against Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 17. Johnson helped lead Canada to a 1-0 win against Honduras on Nov. 13, earning an assist on the game-winning goal. Johnson also started Canada’s scoreless draw against El Salvador on Nov. 17. Powell saw time as substitute in a 2-0 loss against Panama on Nov. 13 and started, playing all 90 minutes, in a 1-0 win against Haiti on Nov. 17.
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS HISTORY
Portland has reached the Western Conference Championship for the second time in three seasons under head coach Caleb Porter. In Porter’s first season in 2013, the Timbers finished as the top seed in the Western Conference and defeated Seattle Sounders FC 5-3 on aggregate in the two-leg, conference semifinals round after bypassing the knockout round. In the conference finals, Portland fell to Real Salt Lake 5-2 on aggregate. In 2014, the Timbers missed out on the postseason by just one point. Portland reached the Western Conference Semifinals for the second time in three seasons following a dramatic, penalty-kick win on Oct. 29 against Sporting KC in the Western Conference Knockout Round. Portland then earned a 2-0 win on aggregate against Vancouver in the Western Conference Semifinals (Nov. 1 and Nov. 8).
2015 SEASON BY THE NUMBERS
Portland concluded the 2015 season with several impressive marks in a variety of categories. The Timbers racked up an MLS-club record mark with 15 wins, while tying for the league lead in shutouts (13). Portland finished with the league lead in both chances created (477) and total shots (486), while also conceding the third-fewest goals (39) among all teams.