The Portland Timbers will open their 2017 MLS Cup Playoff campaign against the Houston Dynamo in a two-leg, aggregate-score Western Conference semifinal series beginning Monday.
The Timbers earned an automatic berth to the Western Conference semifinals after finishing first in the West during the regular season. The Dynamo advanced to the conference semifinal series after beating Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in extra time Thursday in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Ahead of the series, here are the key facts you need to know about the Dynamo and how Portland has matched up against Houston this season:
Regular season record: 13-10-11, 50 points.
Seed: Finished fourth in the Western Conference standings.
How they got here: Houston beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in extra time at home in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs Thursday to advance to the conference semifinal series.
Playoff history: Houston is making its first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2013. The Dynamo won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007 and reached the MLS Cup Final in 2011.
Coach: Wilmer Cabrera. This is Cabrera’s first year at the helm for Houston. He led the Dynamo to a 13-10-11 record this season.
The attack: Houston finished second in the Western Conference with 57 goals in 2017. The Timbers were the only the team in the West that scored more goals (60) than Houston during the regular season. Erick Torres led the Dynamo with 14 goals this season, while Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis each netted 10 goals for Houston in the regular season.
The defense: The Dynamo conceded 45 goals in the regular season, which ranked third best in the Western Conference. Goalkeeper Tyler Deric was named MLS Player of the Month for October after allowing just one goal in three games. But Houston suffered a major blow on defense earlier this week when A.J. DeLaGarza tore his ACL in the club’s regular season finale. DeLaGarza is out for the remainder of the season. Center back Leonardo also left Thursday’s knockout round game with an injury.
Home and away form: The Dynamo were one of the best teams in the Western Conference at home in 2017. They posted a 12-1-4 record at BBVA Compass Stadium and earned another win at home in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs Thursday. But Houston struggled on the road, posting a 1-9-7 record away from home.
How they match up against the Timbers: The Dynamo found a lot of success this season with their counter attack, but Portland matched up well against Houston in its two games against the Dynamo this year. Timbers went undefeated against Houston in the regular season, earning a 4-2 win over the Dynamo at home in March before picking up a 2-2 draw at Houston in July.
The Timbers will travel to face the Dynamo in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal series on Monday, Oct. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1. Portland will then return home to Providence Park to face Houston in the second leg of the series on Sunday, Nov. 5.
— Jamie Goldberg | email@example.com
503-853-3761 | @jamiebgoldberg