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On to the Semifinals: LAFC 3, Portland Timbers 2

LAFC rack up another win over Portland to advance in the U.S. Open Cup.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal-Los Angeles FC vs Portland Timbers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club advanced to the semifinal round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night, beating the Portland Timbers 3-2 at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC started the game on the front foot, putting pressure on the Portland defense, who bent but did not break. The best chance either of the two teams had was in the 18th minute, when Tyler Miller pulled off an impressive double save on Dairon Asprilla inside the box, to keep Portland off the scoresheet.

Portland keeper Jeff Attinella must have seen Miller’s saves and decided to one-up him, as just four minutes later he pulled off a close-range save on a rocket from Latif Blessing, who had come tearing down the left flank into the box. Five minutes after that, Carlos Vela had the ball in a similar spot, just outside the six-yard box on the left side, and rifled a shot on goal, but the ball went off Marco Ureña and out of play, much to the relief of Portland’s defense.

The first breakthrough came in the 33rd minute, when Vela whipped a left-footed ball into the box off a pass from Diego Rossi. The ball went in the direction of Marco Ureña, but was cut off by David Guzman, who headed it into the back of his own net for LAFC’s first goal of the night. Alas, Ureña’s first goal in Black-and-Gold continued to elude him.

Just five minutes later, Vela doubled LAFC’s lead from within Portland’s box. The Mexican international dribbled from the right side of the box and curled the ball from the center of the top of the box to the left side of Attinella’s net, as Portland’s defense was not able to close down on him before he scored his first goal since returning to LA.

As the match headed into added time of the first half, Portland managed to get one back. Steven Beitashour gave away a free kick to Guzman, who curled the ball into the center of the box. Miller was unable to get to the ball, as two Portland players went to get the ball into the net. Bill Tuiloma and Julio Cascante attacked the ball, but it was Cascante who got the final touch to get past Miller, who could do nothing about it after not going out to get the ball.

The second half got into full swing rather quickly, as LAFC got their third goal in just the 51st minute. Ureña got the ball in the box and laid it wide to Rossi, who sent the ball back into the box, only to be denied by Attinella. The ball went right to Jordan Harvey, who mis-hit the ball as Mark-Anthony Kaye also went for it. Harvey’s shot went to the foot of Ureña, who was kept onside by Tuiloma standing on the goal line. Ureña, with a surprising amount of space so close to goal, was able to slot the ball right into the net, finally getting his first goal for LAFC and putting his team up 3-1.

The second half’s wild back-and-forth continued with Portland grabbing a goal back just a minute later, with Dairon Asprilla getting past three LAFC defenders inside their own box to feed the ball all the way across the penalty area to an oncoming Vytautas Andriuškevičius, who put some heat on the ball and got it past Miller for the Timbers’ second goal of the night, closing the deficit to 3-2.

Asprilla was almost able to get Portland level in the 63rd minute, when he kept the ball past a sliding Laurent Ciman. On the counter, Ciman went to ground to attempt to dispossess the striker, but missed, leaving Asprilla one-on-one with Walker Zimmerman. Asprilla was close to sinking Portland’s third goal, but took one too many touches, and the ball was cleared by Zimmerman.

In the 80th minute, Adama Diomande, the hottest striker in Major League Soccer, who entered the match in the 68th for Ureña, almost put the game away for LAFC. Benny Feilhaber, who came in for Lee Nguyen, slotted a pass behind the Timbers’ defense to Diomande, who put the ball into the back of the net past Attinella. However, the striker was called offside, by the slimmest of margins, and the goal was waved off to keep the score at 3-2.

Just give minutes later, LAFC had yet another goal waved off, after Carlos Vela found Diego Rossi streaking on the right side and getting in behind the defense. Rossi was ruled to be just offside, preventing yet another goal that would have iced the game.

Attinella kept the game within reach for Portland with a massive save in the 90th minute, as he dove to his left to stop a Laurent CIman free-kick shot from just outside the box. Diego Rossi went to close down on the ball, but he cut off Feilhaber in the process, who could have tapped the ball in, and shot the ball into the side-netting.

LAFC was able to close out the game without sustaining any further damage, and win 3-2 over Portland to advance to the Semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, where they will play the Houston Dynamo. LAFC’s next match will be in Minnesota to take on the Loons on Sunday in MLS play.

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