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MLS Playoffs, Houston Dynamo vs Portland Timbers: Dynamo, Timbers go scoreless in first leg of Playoffs

Houston was unable to find any advantage in their home field against Portland.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night the Houston Dynamo hosted the first game of the home-and-away series against the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Semifinal. Given their success at home and struggles on the road this year Houston were looking to come out strong and stock pile goals before having to play the second game on the road in Portland. Things didn’t quite go that way as neither team was able to score at BBVA Compass on Monday night.

The big story that came out of the game wasn’t the play on the field but rather the state of the field. The grass field was looking very torn up after almost constant use and no recovery time over the last month. The talk ratcheted up after the Timbers had to use all three substitutes due to injury by the 60th minute of the game. Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe all left the game early with injuries.

The Dynamo came into this game with five of their players carrying yellow cards. Wilmer Cabrera chose to start four of the five players carrying a card. A second yellow card would mean that they would miss the second game of this matchup. The Timbers were without Sebastian Blanco who was a late scratch from the game after spilling boiling water on the top of his foot.

Darlington Nagbe had a chance to put the Timbers up early after a great ball from Diego Valeri. Nagbe had a shot at an open net after Tyler Deric came out to defend against him. Luckily for Deric and the Dynamo the shot from Nagbe went wide of the post.

The Dynamo nearly came up with a goal on the counter attack in the 22nd minute. Tomas Martinez crossed to Romell Quioto, but the forward’s header went wide of the net.

In the 30th minute Alberth Elis was tackled in the box by Mabiala and the referee called a penalty. However, after going to video review on the call the decision was overturned as it was ruled that no foul had been committed.

Diego Chara went down at the end of the first half with a non-contact injury and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after the halftime whistle blew. It was reported after the half that he was believed to have fractured his foot.

In the 52nd minute Martinez played a through ball to Elis. Timbers goal keeper Jeff Attinella came out to beat Elis to the ball and kill the play.

The Timbers were able to keep finding their way into the Dynamo third. Houston struggled to clear a corner kick from the Timbers as the ball kept finding its way back in front of goal. The corner was headed out by the Dynamo but the ball was hit back in front of goal by the Timbers. Vytas was able to cross the ball in front of the net and the Dynamo defense was eventually able to send the ball out of bounds.

Mauro Manotas took several shots in the second half but the young forward repeatedly rushed his chances. One such chance came off a great ball from Vicente Sanchez but Manotas’ shot went wide of the post. Another hit from Manotas went right to Attinella who was able to make the grab easily.

The Timbers seemed to have the edge in the first half though neither team was able to score. Houston only had three shots in the first half while the Timbers only managed two more at five shots in the first half. The teams ended the game with an identical number of shots at 9 each. The Dynamo dominated the time of possession with 53.3% which had often spelled a draw or loss for the team. Having the ball at their feet cuts down on the chance for the counter attack which is where the Dynamo have been the most potent this season.

Fortunately for the Dynamo none of their players were issued a yellow card this game including the five who were carrying yellow cards before the game. The second leg will take play on Sunday at Providence Park in Portland.