BY MIKE DONOVAN
On the final kick of regulation, David Ferreira of FC Dallas sent a curling shot around the outstretched arm of Portland’s Donovan Ricketts. If the ball goes in, the match heads to a 30-minute extra time period. If the ball doesn’t find the back of the net, the Timbers advance to their first U.S.Open Cup semifinal in franchise history.
Luckily for Portland, the shot clanged off the post and back into the field of play. The final whistle came next and gave the Timbers a 3-2 victory over host FC Dallas in a hotly-contested U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match Wednesday night at FC Dallas Stadium.
Second-half goals from Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri and U.S. Open Cup scoring leader Freddy Piqiuonne helped erase a first-half deficit and push the Timbers into a U.S. Open Cup semifinal showdown vs. Real Salt Lake on August 7th at Rio Tinto Stadium.
After a slow-paced first half that saw FC Dallas take the lead on a Je-Vaughan Watson goal, the match sprang to life in the second half. Nagbe continued his stellar play against FC Dallas this season, scoring on a magnificent individual effort in the 61st minute. Nagbe tore his way through multiple Dallas defenders before beating Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz at a tough angle.
The goal marked the third straight game against FC Dallas that Nagbe has scored. Nagbe wasn’t done torturing the host club, either. Two minutes after his goal, Nagbe played a diagonal ball through to a streaking Diego Valeri. With no defenders in sight, Valeri calmly nutmegged Seitz to give Portland the lead.
Despite playing their sixth match since June 8, the Timbers didn’t appear fazed the 100-degree heat in Dallas. When Walker Zimmerman botched a back pass midway through the second half, second half substitute Frederic Piquionne had little trouble stepping in and giving Portland a two-goal lead. The goal was Piquionne’s competition-leading fifth in the US Open Cup this season.
However, FC Dallas was given life when Donovan Ricketts flubbed an attempted punchout, giving Blas Perez an easy header goal in the 85th minute. It was Perez’s second goal of the competition and set up the dramatic finish.
Despite both teams having played over the weekend, the club’s had top-flight starting lineups. While Seitz is not the regular starter for Dallas, he had recorded two shutouts in the team’s earlier US Open Cup matches this season.
FC Dallas has a quick turnaround as they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union Saturday in league play. Portland, meanwhile, will not play another league match until taking on Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on July 7.