HOUSTON – The Portland Timbers held strong to get a 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Monday night. In a tense, hard-fought match, the result was important in part due to the Timbers being forced to make three substitutions due to injuries to Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe.
And yet, the visitors come away from the match feeling confident going into the second leg set for Nov. 5 at Providence Park.
For goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who made two important saves against the Dynamo, the team’s ability to adjust on the fly showed strong depth and character.
“I think everybody that came in was really steady and it just shows that we’ve been dealing with adversity all year and this was just another night,” he said. “Guys stepped up. Guys played big, got the shutout and a good result.”
Timbers Roy Miller, Amobi Okugo and Jeremy Ebobisse were the trio of subs for Portland with each contributing solid shifts. Forward Darren Mattocks, who played the full 90 minutes in the match, felt that not only did the team’s depth show here in Houston, but it will also help play a strong part in the return leg in Portland.
“I think we’re a pretty confident team at home,” said Mattocks. “I think the guys that came in tonight did a really good job and that definitely showed the depth of this squad.
"As Caleb has mentioned, from the start of the season, we’re going to need each and every player to seize it. And that showed tonight. The guys that came in stepped up and it was really big.”
The team’s confidence in their home pitch is well warranted. The Timbers have won their last six straight games at home–outscoring opponents 16 to three over the stretch–and were 11-2-4 in the regular season.
“We expect to win seven and we’ve got high expectations of ourselves,” said Mattocks. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves but we know we can get the job done at home.”
Added Attinella, “I think everybody is excited for it and I just can’t wait until Sunday.”