Minnesota and Portland play to scoreless draw


Updated: September 22, 2019 06:20 PM

The Portland Timbers and Minnesota United played to a scoreless draw Sunday, delaying Minnesota's bid for a berth in the Major League Soccer playoffs.
Minnesota (14-10-7, 49 points) could've clinched a playoff spot with a win against Portland and will clinch on their next win.
With the draw, The Timbers (13-13-5, 44 points) moved back into playoff position, but just barely. They are tied on points with FC Dallas, who play later Sunday, but sit ahead of them on tiebreakers.
Both sides exchanged plenty of chances early as the Timbers registered their most shots in a first half since this year since their opening match of the season.
The Timbers, who have lost four of their last six games, have not scored in their last 270 minutes, all at home.
In the 10th minute, Minnesota's Mason Toye fired a close-range header just barely over the crossbar. In the 17th minute, Portland's Larrys Mabiala headed a corner kick from close-range that goalkeeper Vito Mannone parried away.
Sebastian Blanco hit the crossbar with a curling shot from the top of the box in stoppage time of the first half.
As the stalemate dragged on, the game started to open up and both sides had closer chances.
Robin Lod nearly scored for United in the 61st minute, heading a lofted free kick off the crossbar.
Jeremy Ebobisse fired a close-range header in the 67th minute that Mannone slapped away. Right back Jorge Moreira lofted a long cross to Ebobisse at the back post, who couldn't get past Mannone.
In the 70th minute, Cristhian Paredes dived head-first into a well-placed Blanco cross, but his header went off the inside of the post and out.
The Timbers appealed for a penalty in the 88th minute after a Paredes cross hit Minnesota's Chase Gasper in the left arm, but play was allowed to continue without a video review.
The Timbers were forced to make an early substitution in the 22nd minute when Paredes came on for midfielder Andres Flores, who had been hit in the face with accidental boot from Mabiala a couple minutes earlier. Flores was evaluated on the field for concussion symptoms and exited the game with a swollen black eye.
Captain Diego Valeri, who has started in the Timbers' last 15 games, started on the bench Sunday in an effort to give the veteran rest. He came on in the 60th minute for striker Brian Fernandez.
After a recent rash of injuries, the Timbers had more usual starters available than they have had in several games.
Mabiala made his return from a hamstring injury after missing the Timbers' previous six games. Blanco returned to the starting line-up after an injury at the end of August that kept him out for two games and relegated him to a late substitute in the Timbers' previous game.
Minnesota United had a full first-choice lineup available. The team's newest young designated player, Thomas Chacon, did not make the bench for Sunday's game in a coaching decision. He was acquired last month from Uruguayan first-division team Danubio FC.
The Timbers have three matches left in the regular season. Up next, they host the New England Revolution midweek before heading to Kansas City next Sunday.
Minnesota United, also with three games left, host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and then Los Angeles FC on Sunday.


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