Dallas FC tops Timbers in penalty kicks to advance in playoffs

FC Dallas pulled off a stunning upset, topping the Portland Timbers on penalty kicks in their Round One matchup in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after forcing extra time thanks to a last-gasp equalizer from Ricardo Pepi.

Jorge Villafana had the Timbers on the cusp of advancing with an 82nd-minute go-ahead goal, but Pepi found a rebound finish just before the final whistle to force extra time and the penalty kick shootout, in which Dallas prevailed after Villafana became the first player to miss in the eighth round of kicks.

Portland controlled the action and had the better of the chances throughout the first half, but it was FC Dallas who thought they had the opener against the run of play on the half-hour mark. Forward Franco Jara got behind the Timbers back line and ran onto a through ball from Andres Ricaurte before ripping home the breakaway finish past Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark and into the net, but the goal was disallowed on Video Review, as Jara was deemed just offside.

Portland continued to rack up the chances, finally finding their breakthrough in the 82nd minute when Villafana collected a feed from Diego Valeri and smashed home a close-range finish from a difficult angle.

Dallas nearly equalized in the 89th minute, as Pepi flicked a header that appeared bound for goal, only to be denied by a sprawling save from Clark that looked like it would spell the end for FC Dallas. But the 17-year-old Homegrown attacker would send the contest to extra time in dramatic fashion, making a charging run behind the Portland back line and hit his initial shot off the post before cashing home the point-blank rebound in the 93rd minute. 

Valeri nearly bagged a spectacular winner on the last kick of extra time, chipping an audacious left-footed shot over Maurer, only to see it ring off the far post and send the contest to penalty kicks.

The shootout went back-and-forth with clinically converted kicks, until Villafana was stuffed by Jimmy Maurer to set off a wild celebration for the visitors, who advance to the Western Conference Semifinals to take on either the Seattle Sounders or LAFC.