In-form Adam Kwarasey scored and saved a spot-kick as his side beat Portland Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City to advance in the MLS play-offs.
The home team managed to pull out a dramatic 7-6 victory that came down to a sudden-death showdown between the two team’s goalkeepers, and a bizarre double-post miss by Saad Abdul-Salaam that would have given Sporting the win.
In the end, Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey slammed home his effort and then saved the attempt from Sporting’s youngster Jon Kempin, who was forced into the game in the 84th minute after starter Tim Melia came off due to injury.
The first half proceeded scoreless, but extremely physically, marked by 17 combined fouls (nine for Sporting) — which in the second half, flared into a brief scrum between the two sides after a Sporting foul.
But finally, Portland opened the scoring in the 57th minute courtesy of Rodney Wallace, when a Nat Borchers header at the top of the box fell free in the area. Wallace broke free from a crowd and poked it past Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia.
Then, Sporting KC pushed its way into the lead. Kevin Ellis did the first part, with an 87th-minute header goal delivered on a platter by Graham Zusi.
And then, after a 1-1 draw at full time, Krisztian Nemeth nearly played hero again, scoring a dagger in the sixth minute of the first extra-time period.
The Timbers now move on to the Western Conference Semifinals against No. 2 seed Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a two-leg series that starts Sunday in Portland at Providence Park.
Then magic came again for Portland, two minutes from the final extra time whistle. Dairon Asprilla took a throw-in at the right edge of the penalty area, spun, and sent a pin-point across the center of the box that Maximiliano Urruti headed home to send the crowd into hysterics.
With the score tied up at 2-2, that’s when the penalty-kick shootout started, eventually proceeding into sudden death and Kwarasey’s game-winning goal.